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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 22 January 2019

Netanyahu says he will stay in office even if indicted after Israeli parliament votes to disband

Israel's attorney general is expected to issue a decision in the coming months

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands next to Israel's former defence minister Avigdor Lieberman during a Knesset (parliament) session. AFP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands next to Israel's former defence minister Avigdor Lieberman during a Knesset (parliament) session. AFP

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly told his associates that he will not resign from his post if he is indicted for charges of bribery and corruption, an Israeli newspaper reported on Thursday, one day after the Knesset voted to disband the current parliament.

An indictment would put heavy pressure on the long-time leader to step aside and would hurt his bright prospects for re-election.

But, the prime minister has reportedly said that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit “won’t dare” to indict him before national elections are held in April, the pro-Netanyahu Israel Hayom daily reported.

Even if he is charged, Mr Netanyahu plans to remain in office, the report said.

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The premier will go to the polls in April facing the possibility of being charged with bribery and corruption in three different cases. One allegation holds that Mr Netanyahu accepted valuable gifts from billionaire friends. Another revolves around alleged offers of advantageous legislation for a major newspaper in return for favorable press coverage.

The attorney general has yet to decide whether to press charges but the decision is expected to be announced in the coming months.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Israeli Knesset voted to dissolve the current parliament and scheduled new elections for April 9.

In what was largely a formality, the Knesset voted late Wednesday in favor of dissolving by a 102-2 margin.

Earlier this week, Mr Netanyahu announced that he was disbanding his coalition and taking the nation to new elections six months ahead of schedule. The country now heads into a three-month campaign.

Opinion polls have suggested that Mr Netanyahu's nationalist Likud Party will easily win re-election.

Updated: December 27, 2018 02:28 PM

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