Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing bribery charges, Israeli police announced on Tuesday. The leader, who has become a loud voice in geopolitical relations could be ousted from his office if the charges were to end in convictions.
After a yearlong investigation, police recommended charges in multiple corruption cases. One case alleges that Netanyahu took gifts (totaling roughly $300,000 over a decade) in exchange for favors. In the other case, the prime minister is accused of making deals with a newspaper publisher in exchange for positive coverage, according to The New York Times.
Netanyahu remained defiant under pressure, telling the nation that he does not intend to relinquish his post. In a video released on Tuesday, the middle eastern leader said “I feel a deep obligation to continue to lead Israel in a way that will ensure our future … you know I do everything with only one thing in mind–the good of the country … nothing has made me deviate, or will make me deviate from this sacred mission.”
The process is expected to be lengthy and the final decision on whether to press bribery charges lies with Attorney General Avichai Manderblit.
In the first case, dubbed Case 1000, Netanyahu is accused of accepting gifts, including cigars and champagne, from overseas businessmen. Case 1000 initially focused on Israeli billionaire Arnon Milchan, a Hollywood movie mogul who is also facing bribery charges, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Netanyahu has been a player in international politics for decades. He was first elected in the ’90s and was elected again in 2009. He has served continuously since then. Though the United States and Israel are allies — both wary of an ever-strengthening Iran — Netanyahu had a terse relationship with President Obama. Their relationship worsened when Obama announced the “Iran deal.” Netanyahu said that the 2015 agreement was “filled with absurdities” and that “the more you read it, the worse it gets.”
But Netanyahu has enjoyed an ally in President Trump, who has exhibited one of the most pro-Israel stances in recent history. Trump officially directed his state department to move the United States’ Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. That move signified that the president was breaking with the policies of his predecessors, who generally favored a two-state solution to the Jerusalem puzzle. On Tuesday, Rare reported that former White House aide Sebastian Gorka said that only three members of the president’s cabinet supported the decision to abandon the two-state solution and move the Israeli embassy.