Calls for Netanyahu to Step Down as Prime Minister Grow Louder

Attorney General begins reviewing evidence that Netanyahu engaged in bribery; indictment expected soon

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Israel Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Sunday was reportedly set to begin reviewing evidence that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu engaged in bribery, eliciting renewed calls for the Israeli leader to step down immediately.

Netanyahu has been facing a number of corruption investigations for years now. The most serious among them is known as "Case 4000," and involves Netanyahu allegedly advancing favorable policies on behalf of Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder in Bezeq, in exchange for some positive media coverage.

According to the State Prosecutor's Office, the evidence passed on to Mandelblit constitutes "a clear case of bribery."

The news was accompanied by a chorus of politicians and former government officials saying Netanyahu must step down, especially if he is actually indicted. A minority of voices noted that in Israel, the accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty, meaning Netanyahu could continue to serve as prime minister even under indictment.

Of course, guilty or not, Netanyahu must face the Israeli voters in next year's general election, and serious charges of corruption could harm his chances of reelection.

For his part, Netanyahu maintains that all the investigations are part of a massive witch hunt being orchestrated by his political opponents. Indeed, to many it does seem strange that Netanyahu would have taken such a big risk to obtain a spattering of positive coverage by a single online news outlet.

But this drama is likely to turn more on perception than on the facts, and the Israeli Left will take any advantage it can gain to finally unseat Israel's longest-serving prime minister.

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