Israeli Attorney General: Netanyahu Can Stay on as PM

Israel’s attorney general Avichai Mandelblit says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can stay on as head of government even after he was indicted last week for alleged corruption.

Although Cabinet ministers are required to step down after an indictment, the laws about a prime minister are not explicit.

Mandelblit says Netanyahu can stay in office unless he is convicted and all his appeals are exhausted.

Netanyahu is facing pressure from the opposition to resign after Mandelblit announced his indictment last week.

Netanyahu is charged with allegedly taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, cigars, champagne, and jewelry from billionaire friends in exchange for personal favors, including helping one wealthy friend get favorable newspaper coverage.

He also is accused of doing favors for a newspaper editor so the prime minister himself would receive positive stories.

In this Nov. 20, 2019 photo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during an extended meeting of the right-wing bloc members at the Knesset, in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu has vowed not to resign, calling the indictment a “coup” bent on toppling a right-wing government.

Mandelblit, who was appointed by Netanyahu, denied any political motivation, saying he acted strictly according to the law.

Netanyahu’s legal woes comes as Israeli voters face the possibility of a third general election this year.

Neither Netanyahu or his centrist political rival Benny Gantz have been able to form a government after two previous inconclusive votes.

Gantz has ruled out a power-sharing government with Netanyahu.

His Blue and White party issued a statement saying “A prime minister up to his neck in corruption allegations has no public or moral mandate to make fateful decisions for the state of Israel.”

A majority of the Israeli parliament has until December 11 to throw its support behind Netanyahu, Gantz, or anyone else to form a government.

If not, another general election will be held.