'Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces an increasingly tough time ahead as his biggest political opponent overtakes him in popularity and as calls mount for him to resign over looming corruption charges that could effectively end his political career.
Ex-Israeli military chief of staff Benny Gantz, head of the newly-formed center-left Blue and White political alliance, has both gained in popularity — past that of Netanyahu’s — and urged the Israeli prime minister to resign.
“Netanyahu, I am calling on you to... resign from your position. You can return to politics with your head up when you prove you are innocent,” he said.
The call came after Attorney General Aluf Avichai Mandelblit announced his intention to indict Netanyahu for fraud and breach of trust in three separate cases, and for bribery in one of them, pending a hearing.
Netanyahu is involved and has been investigated in at least three criminal cases.
So-called Case 1,000 involves allegations that Netanyahu received luxury gifts from international billionaires in exchange for favors. In Case 2,000, he is accused of conspiring with the owner of Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper to undermine a critical daily. Case 4,000 also involves allegations that Netanyahu offered incentives to the Israeli telecom provider Bezeq in return for positive stories in Walla news website.
It is the first time that a serving Israeli prime minister is facing criminal charges.
At a press conference on Thursday, Netanyahu called the allegations a “witch hunt intended to topple” his right-wing administration, stressing that he intends to continue as the prime minister “for many more years.” He is running for a fifth term in the April 9 general elections.'
Read more: Israeli ‘Crime Minister’ Netanyahu in hot water as opponent gains in popularity and corruption charges loom