Netanyahu accuses Israeli left, media of trying to oust him

Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara greet supporters during an event by his Likud Party in Tel Aviv. (Reuters)
Updated 10 August 2017
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Netanyahu accuses Israeli left, media of trying to oust him

TEL AVIV: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused his leftist opponents and the country’s media of trying to oust his government by pressuring investigators to indict him “at any cost.”
Netanyahu, 67, has been questioned under caution by police in two cases. “Case 1000” deals with gifts given to him and his family by businessmen, while a second, “Case 2000,” is related to conversations he held with an Israeli publisher.
Police have also questioned his wife, Sara, over her alleged misuse of official funds. Israeli media said this week that the attorney-general was poised to issue an indictment against her.
“The media and the left, which serves it... contrive endless scandals, endless reports and endless headlines so that maybe, maybe something will stick,” he told a rally of his right-wing Likud party in a speech broadcast live on the three main Israeli television channels.
“They demand from the law-enforcement authorities: ‘give us something, doesn’t matter what’,” Netanyahu told supporters, who waved Israeli flags and chanted his nickname “Bibi, Bibi.”
“The left’s and the media’s ... aim is to put pressure, which is wrong, on the law enforcement authorities to bring an indictment at any cost, without any connection to the truth, without any connection to justice.”
Netanyahu, who last won an election in 2015, has weathered several scandals and police inquiries during his 11 years in office. His approval ratings are generally solid, putting him ahead of potential challengers.
The Israeli leader has described the din of criminal investigations around him as “background noise” and has dismissed speculation he will be forced to resign by saying simply on Facebook this week: “Won’t happen.”
He quipped in his speech that there were rumors that even his family dog, Kaia, would be called in for questioning.
Case 1,000 involves Netanyahu and family members receiving gifts on a regular basis from two businessmen. Israeli media have reported that the gifts included cigars and champagne.
Case 2,000 involves a deal Netanyahu allegedly discussed with the owner of one of Israel’s largest newspapers, Yedioth Ahronoth, for better coverage in return for curbs on competition from a free paper owned by US casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. The latter paper has long supported the prime minister.
Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing.
In his speech on Wednesday, Netanyahu also accused Palestinian officials of seeking his demise but said he would not yield to their demands for Israeli concessions in peace talks that have been frozen since 2014.
“My friends, they too will be disappointed, because it won’t happen,” he said.


Lebanese budget protesters clash with security in Beirut

Updated 20 May 2019
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Lebanese budget protesters clash with security in Beirut

  • Over one hundred protesters gathered Monday outside the Government House in downtown Beirut
  • Lebanon faces a looming fiscal crisis as the economy struggles with soaring debt

BEIRUT: Security forces opened water cannons on Lebanese anti-austerity protesters in the country’s capital on Monday, as the government continued to hold marathon meetings to discuss severe budget cuts.
Lebanon faces a looming fiscal crisis as the economy struggles with soaring debt, rising unemployment and slow growth. The government’s tightened budget and key reforms aim to unlock billions of dollars in pledged foreign assistance. But planned cuts have unleashed a wave of public discontent, amid leaks that austerity could target public wages, services and social benefits.

A retired Lebanese soldier chants slogans while holding an army flag, during a protest in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday. (AP)

Over one hundred protesters gathered Monday outside the Government House in downtown Beirut shouting “Thieves, thieves!” as the Cabinet met for its 16th session and struggles to reach agreement.
Protesters pushed back against police lines and set fire to tires outside the building. At least two policemen and one civilian were wounded in the scuffles.
Among those demonstrating Monday were public and private school teachers and retired officers.
The government, headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, has sought to calm nerves while also describing the upcoming budget as the most austere in Lebanon’s history.
Hariri said he hopes the government will be able to send the budget to parliament later this week.
Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said the cabinet made “important progress” in discussions Sunday.