HaBayit HaYehudi Leader: I May Leave Coalition if Netanyahu Is Indicted
Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the leader of the HaBayit HaYehudi, hinted on Thursday that he might take his party out of the governing coalition if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is indicted.
Bennett’s remarks came after a major development in the previously low-profile Case 4000 corruption investigation of Netanyahu. The case involves alleged collusion between Netanyahu and Shaul Elovitch, owner of the news site Walla, to give Netanyahu more favorable coverage in return for easing regulations on parent company Bezeq.
Earlier this week, Shlomo Filber, director-general of the Communications Ministry, turned state’s witness against Netanyahu in the case. On Wednesday, it was revealed that taped conversations revealed Elovitch explicitly telling Walla’s CEO to cover Netanyahu more favorably.
In response to these developments, Bennett was quoted by Hebrew news site Mako saying, “We will continue to manage state affairs as usual. As I have already said, issues of values are for the consideration of the voter, and criminal matters will be decided by the legal system. We very much hope that the prime minister will be exonerated, for our good and the State of Israel’s good. To the best of my judgment, the prime minister is fulfilling his office appropriately, and we have a good national government that will continue to benefit Israel.”
However, Bennett hinted that this position could change. While “nothing that has been published on Case 4000 has thus far been proven,” he will decide whether to stay in the coalition after “an assessment of the situation according to the severity of the indictment, if there is one.”
Another coalition member, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon — head of the Kulanu party — said on Wednesday, “At the moment, I don’t change my stance and am staying in the coalition,” also hinting that further developments could change his mind.
If either Bennett or Kahlon, or both, left the coalition, it would almost certainly topple Netanyahu’s government and send Israel to new elections. At the moment, polls indicate that the prime minister would be reelected.