Israeli think tank files libel suit against Netanyahu's son

Israeli think tank files libel suit against Netanyahu's son

Thousands of people turned up Wednesday evening for a rally in support of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in light of the recent allegations made against him.

Party leaders described it as an attempt to counter a vicious campaign by a hostile media and overzealous police and state prosecution.

The fall of Mr. Netanyahu would also provide an opening for the leaders of main political ideologies fighting against the entrenched establishment and one another.

On Thursday, Israeli police for the first time publicly acknowledged that corruption investigations involving Netanyahu revolve around "bribery, fraud and breach of trust", The Times of Israel reported. Ari Harow, Netanyahu's former chief of staff, signed a plea bargain and will aid the investigation into suspected bribery and other crimes, according to a court document released August 4.

In Trumpian fashion, Mr. Netanyahu denounced the "fake news media", which he said had joined with "the left" in what he called "an obsessive and unprecedented witch hunt against me and my family, in order to carry out a coup".

Netanyahu, the second-longest serving leader in Israeli history, is engulfed in a series of scandals relating to alleged financial misdeeds and supposed illicit ties to executives in media, worldwide business and Hollywood.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others are expected to speak at the event. In 2013, Israeli media revealed he had spent more than $2,000 the previous year on ice cream.

Experts who have been observing Israeli politics for decades also said that Netanyahu's fortunes may well be changing.

In an op-ed entitled "Netanyahu is different", author Amnon Lord wrote, "That is why Netanyahu's voters have no regrets and may even support him more forcefully now".

If public pressure mounts, Mr. Netanyahu could offer to step down amid the controversy, leading to political jockeying in his own party for who would succeed him as prime minister.

Internal criticism has emerged only from those outside of politics. The second case focuses on Netanyahu's conversations with Yedioth Ahronoth Publisher Arnon Mozes, in which they allegedly discussed a deal to have the Israeli newspaper soften its stance on Netanyahu in exchange for curtailing the activities of Israel Hayom, a competitor of Yedioth Ahronoth. "When will they [the media] learn that the government is only replaced at the ballot box, not in the media or in an attempt to pressure the attorney general and the legal authorities", she said.

Yesh Atid party chairman Yair Lapid said the pro-Netanyahu rally "crossed all lines".

In a Facebook video, Netanyahu dismissed the developments as "the inevitable scandal-of-the-week".

The cases: Netanyahu is accused of accepting lavish gifts in return for favors and of trying to arrange better coverage in a critical newspaper by reining in a competing, pro-Netanyahu newspaper run by Adelson, per NPR in this audio report.

A third probe, "File 3000" reportedly concerns a possible conflict of interests involving the Israeli government buying submarines from Germany.