Israeli politicians suspect Netanyahu seeks election to survive corruption probes


In a wide-ranging interview with Fox News that aired on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had "a certain chemistry" with President Donald Trump, and hailed Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move the American embassy there from Tel Aviv. In the past the parties have compromised over the issue, but at least one coalition partner suggested Netanyahu was not invested in preventing the government's collapse.

The coalition has been at loggerheads since ultra-Orthodox parties said they would not support next year's budget unless a law is passed to exempt religious students from military service. Liberman has vowed that not one Yisrael Beiteinu lawmaker will vote to approve the haredi conscription legislation, though he says his party will not consider bolting the coalition until the bill is actually approved by the parliament.

The political tremor comes as the prime minister battles a slew of corruption allegations over accepting gifts from billionaire friends and claims that he unlawfully engineered favorable media coverage for himself and his family. But looming over Netanyahu's speech was a mountain of corruption scandals.

"I said that the nuclear agreement with Iran contains within it many dangers for the world, including the special danger of the nuclearization of the Middle East", Netanyahu said, according to a statement released on his behalf.

"If there are elections, I will compete in them and win". The thinking is that it would be much harder to force a newly re-elected Netanyahu to step down if he is indicted in the coming months.

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The other alleges he sought a secret deal with the publisher of a top-selling newspaper for favourable coverage.

That investigation is continuing, but two former Netanyahu confidants have already agreed to testify against him in exchange for leniency.

His call came amidst looming political crisis threatening to dissolve the right-wing coalition.

When probed as to how the peace process to end the conflict with the Palestinians was progressing, Netanyahu said only that the final deal would take some time, adding: "Israel now gives a high priority to its new relations with the Arab countries".

Nearly everyone has climbed down from their high ladder as efforts continue in the coalition government to find a solution that will prevent early elections. Opinion polls have shown Netanyahu and his Likud Party gaining popularity as the scandals have mounted.