Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he would not resign if indicted on corruption charges, as police continue to investigate several cases involving him ahead of April polls.
Netanyahu, who is enmeshed in three corruption cases and denies any wrongdoing, announced last week that a snap parliamentary elections would be held in April, seeking a fresh political mandate after his right-wing ruling coalition collapsed.
On Monday, Netanyahu said at a press conference during his Brazil visit that he would not step down “in the event of being summoned for a hearing by the prosecutor general before the elections”.
Netanyahu would not be required to resign if charged in any of the cases, but he would likely face intense political pressure to do so.
“I have no intention of resigning, firstly because there will be nothing [to come from the probes], secondly because the law does not oblige me to do so,” Netanyahu said.
“That would be a serious breach of Israeli democracy,” he added.
The lawyer general’s decision on indictments is expected in the coming months and some see Netanyahu’s decision to call early elections as a manoeuvre to fight any charges with a fresh mandate.
In their most recent move, police recommended Netanyahu be indicted over regulatory benefits allegedly granted to telecoms firm Bezeq in exchange for positive coverage from a related media company.
According to Israel media reports, there is enough evidence on the case to charge him with corruption and in February, investigators recommended he be indicted in two other cases.
In one, allegations against Netanyahu include seeking a secret deal with the publisher of Israel’s top-selling newspaper Yediot Aharonot to ensure positive coverage in return for pushing forward a law that would have limited the circulation of a rival publication.
Another probe involves suspicions the premier and his family received luxury presents from wealthy individuals in exchange for financial or personal favours.
Opinion polls show Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party winning the April 9 vote, which was originally scheduled for November.