Likud Rally for Netanyahu Expected to Draw Thousands


"The attack by the prime minister of Israel was shameful, degrading and unsafe". Hundreds of supporters packed a Tel Aviv convention center ahead of Netanyahu's expected speech.

That streak, however, might be in jeopardy thanks to a convoluted chain of events that involves two separate corruption investigations, a former confidant who has turned against him, the producer of Pretty Woman, and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. He signed his Facebook rebuttal with middle finger and poo emojis. The latter paper has long supported the prime minister.

"Unlike [former prime ministers Ehud] Barak, [Ehud] Olmert and [Ariel] Sharon, Netanyahu has not buckled under the pressure".

Israeli police are also investigating a US$2 billion deal to buy German submarines, in which Netanyahu's personal lawyer also represented the local agent of the submarine manufacturer. He might just be right.At the moment time appears to be on Netanyahu's side and - unlike his predecessor Ehud Olmert, who quit and later went to jail for corruption - he leads a relatively stable coalition government and presides over a buoyant economy.While a former top aide has agreed to testify about two corruption cases in which Netanyahu has been named as a suspect, the prime minister is not required by law to step down even if indicted.

Asked if they believed Netanyahu's assertion of innocence of all the allegations against him, 51 percent said no, 27 percent said yes, and 22 percent said they didn't know.

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.

Police recommended that Mrs Netanyahu be indicted over the alleged spending of public funds at the couple's private home earlier this year.

In his speech Netanyahu consistently denied any wrong doing and blamed all his woes on the left and the media, saying it was the only way they could hope to remove him from government.

Yesh Atid party chairman Yair Lapid said that the pro-Netanyahu rally "crossed all lines". But the gathering was also serving as a test of Netanyahu's popularity and control over his party.

One could call the current scene in Jerusalem politics as usual.

"Netanyahu is tightening the bolts and exerting his authority", he said. "He's conveying that he is still powerful and everyone should keep their knives holstered".

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should be allowed to fulfill his duties in accordance with the mandate he received from the public, in a state of law and democratic rule, not to dismiss a prime minister based on media headlines, opposition demonstrations or partial investigative procedures", he said.

The second investigation, "File 2000", reportedly concerns Netanyahu's alleged attempts to strike a deal with publisher Arnon Mozes of the Yediot Ahronot newspaper group to promote legislation to weaken Yediot's main competitor in exchange for more favourable coverage of Netanyahu by Yediot.