TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israeli lawmakers superior a bill on Monday that would permit Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to preserve a $270,000 donation he acquired from a relative to pay for his authorized charges as he battles corruption costs.
Netanyahu is on trial for costs of fraud, breach of belief and accepting bribes in a collection of scandals involving rich associates and highly effective media moguls. He denies wrongdoing and says the accusations are a part of a “witch hunt” orchestrated by a biased media, regulation enforcement and justice system.
The bill is a part of a proposed overhaul of Israel’s authorized system by Netanyahu’s new authorities. For over two months, the plan has drawn fierce protests in Israel, the most important seen in years.
Final yr, Israel’s excessive courtroom ordered Netanyahu to pay again the $270,000 given by a late cousin to cowl the authorized bills for him and his spouse. Apart from the protracted corruption trial, the Netanyahus have had to take care of charges surrounding plenty of defamation fits each introduced by them and towards them.
Netanyahu and his spouse Sara have earned a fame for having fun with lavish existence, each on the taxpayers’ expense and thanks to different individuals’s largesse. In one of many affairs Netanyahu is charged in, he’s suspected of receiving bins of cigars and champagne, in addition to costly jewellery for his spouse, from the Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.
Netanyahu has lengthy been saddled with a picture of a being a cigar-smoking, cognac-swilling socialite. Collectively together with his spouse, he’s seen by many Israelis as being out of contact with their day-to-day struggles. A current parliamentary committee determination to approve new funding for the family’ s non-public residences in an unique seaside city and in Jerusalem, in addition to a rise in spending on clothes bills, solely helped cement that feeling.
Monday’s bill, which handed 53-49, got here a day after a ministerial committee additionally accepted it. The bill nonetheless should overcome a number of votes earlier than changing into regulation. However with Netanyahu’s authorities a majority in parliament, it’s doubtless to be accepted.
The bill would permit public officers settle for donations for authorized or medical payments, regardless of vocal objection by the nation’s legal professional basic that this is able to promote corruption.
Netanyahu and his allies are pushing ahead a collection of proposals that may weaken the facility of the nation’s Supreme Court docket and judiciary. His allies say that the powers of unelected judges should be curbed. Critics say the adjustments will give an excessive amount of energy to the prime minister, eroding a system of checks and balances. Additionally they say that Netanyahu has a battle of curiosity by pushing ahead the overhaul at a time when he’s on trial.
Sara Netanyahu grew to become caught up within the anti-overhaul protests final week, when demonstrators gathered exterior a ritzy Tel Aviv salon where she was having her hair done. Scores of law enforcement officials have been referred to as in to escort her out of the salon and away from the jeering crowd.