Finance Minister and Kulanu party chairman Moshe Kahlon has reportedly told confidants he will not resign from the government even if police recommend criminal charges be brought against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
According to Hadashot TV news, Kahlon made the remarks to his associates earlier this week during deliberations on the 2019 state budget, which cabinet ministers passed unanimously on Friday morning.
Kahlon was said to express a desire to complete a full term as finance minister, saying he had reforms he wished to see implemented in the Treasury.
He and Netanyahu have clashed in the past on a number of policy issues, but appear to have buried the hatchet during budget deliberations in recent days.
Netanyahu is facing two separate criminal investigations, known as Case 1000 and Case 2000.
Case 1000 revolves around alleged illicit gifts given to Netanyahu and his family by billionaire benefactors, most notably hundreds of thousands of shekels’ worth of cigars and champagne from the Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.
Case 2000 is focused on an alleged clandestine quid-pro-quo deal made between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth publisher and owner Arnon “Noni” Mozes, in which the prime minister was said to have promised Mozes he would advance legislation to reduce the circulation of Yedioth’s main commercial rival, the freebie Israel Hayom, in exchange for friendlier coverage from Yedioth.
The prime minister has denied wrongdoing in both cases.
Earlier this week, State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan hinted that police were wrapping up their investigations into Netanyahu, and that police would make their indictment recommendations in the coming weeks.
Netanyahu, who has denied wrongdoing in both cases, has himself indicated he does not intend to step down regardless of police recommendations.
“If there will be recommendations [to indict] — so what?” Netanyahu recently told a rally of Likud members. “Here’s a fact I doubt the public knows: The vast majority of police recommendations end with nothing. More than 60 percent of police recommendations are thrown out.”
A December poll found a majority of Israelis think Netanyahu should resign if police recommend that he be indicted.