President Reuven Rivlin appeared to hint on Monday that he believes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should resign from his post if an indictment is filed against him in two criminal graft investigations.
“I’ll only express my own opinion in 3.5 years,” when his term as president concludes, Rivlin told Hashadot television news political anchor Amit Segal in an interview at the Jerusalem Conference on Monday. But, he added, “in the past senior politicians have expressed their opinion about an indictment, and my opinion was influenced by theirs.”
To a smile from Rivlin, Segal suggested the comment was a reference to Netanyahu’s own demand in May 2008 that then-prime minister Ehud Olmert resign over an investigation into multiple serious corruption allegations.
Netanyahu, then the leader of the opposition, argued that a prime minister who is buried “up to his neck in investigations” could not be trusted to give his full attention to running state affairs.
Other top Likud figures, including Yuval Steinitz, now the minister of energy, were similarly outspoken at the time about the need for a prime minister under investigation to resign his post.
Also Monday, Netanyahu’s longtime benefactor, American Jewish casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, repeatedly declined to defend Netanyahu in the corruption probes.
Asked by an Army Radio reporter what he thought about the investigations into Netanyahu’s affairs, Adelson said, “I don’t know nothing about it.”
Did he think Netanyahu “will come out clean from all of this?” the reporter pressed.
“I have no idea,” Adelson insisted.
“Do you wish Prime Minister Netanyahu will come out of this without any charges?”
Adelson laughed, saying, “I wish for peace. I wish I could tell my wife what to do, and I wish for peace.”
Pressed yet again, “But do you wish anything for Benjamin Netanyahu?” he replied, “I wish for everybody good things.”
Adelson is considered one of Netanyahu’s closest allies, but the relationship has reportedly soured somewhat over the past year over allegations that Netanyahu attempted to hammer out a quid pro quo agreement with Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes that would have seen the prime minister act to weaken the Adelson-backed daily Israel Hayom in exchange for more positive coverage in Yedioth.
In a separate investigation, Netanyahu is suspected of receiving expensive gifts from billionaire benefactors that may have amounted to bribes.
Netanyahu has denied wrongdoing in both cases.
Raoul Wootliff contributed to this report.