Indicted Netanyahu to quit all ministries, remain PM

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 12 December 2019

Indicted Netanyahu to quit all ministries, remain PM

  • Israeli law stipulates that ministers facing criminal charges resign, but has no such provision for prime ministers

JERUSALEM: Embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, facing criminal charges and a new general election, will resign from all other ministerial positions he holds but remain premier, his lawyers said on Thursday.

The announcement to the supreme court came the same morning as Parliament dissolved itself and set a date for a new election, the third within a year.

The court had received a petition from the Movement for Quality of Government in Israel (MQG) demanding that Netanyahu, who is also minister of agriculture, diaspora, health and welfare, step down from all his positions in light of his indictments.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit last month charged Netanyahu with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three different corruption cases.

Israeli law stipulates that ministers facing criminal charges resign, but has no such provision for prime ministers.

Following the petition, Mandelblit said that while Netanyahu could not be forced to resign as premier, the issue of his ministerial positions would be addressed later.

In the Thursday submission to the court, Netanyahu’s legal team said: “He will cease being a minister by Jan. 1, 2020 and appoint other ministers instead.

“The prime minister will continue to be prime minister, as per the law,” attorneys Avi Halevy and Michael Rabello said.

The MQG said Netanyahu’s intention to resign as minister “was not enough,” describing his continued premiership “a terrible shame on Israel.”

“Netanyahu should fight for his innocence as a private person and not from the prime minister’s office,” the NGO said in a statement.

Netanyahu protests his innocence, accusing the state prosecution and media of a witch hunt.

He has yet to announce whether he will seek immunity from prosecution — a parliamentary process complicated by the short life of the current parliament.

A new election was called for March 2, after neither Netanyahu nor his centrist rival Benny Gantz managed to form a majority coalition following the September vote.


Iran shutters newspaper after expert questions coronavirus numbers

Updated 10 August 2020

Iran shutters newspaper after expert questions coronavirus numbers

  • Jahane Sanat began publishing in 2004 and was mainly focused on business news
  • ‘The administration resorted to secrecy for political and security reasons’

TEHRAN, Iran: Iran shut down a newspaper on Monday after it published remarks by an expert who said the official figures on coronavirus cases and deaths in the country account for only 5 percent of the real toll.
Mohammad Reza Sadi, the editor-in-chief of Jahane Sanat, told the official IRNA news agency that authorities closed his newspaper, which began publishing in 2004 and was mainly focused on business news.
On Sunday, the daily quoted Mohammad Reza Mahboobfar, an epidemiologist the paper said had worked on the government’s anti-coronavirus campaign, as saying the true number of cases and deaths in Iran could be 20 times the number reported by the Health Ministry.
He also said the virus was detected in Iran a month earlier than Feb. 19, when authorities announced the first confirmed case. He said they held up the announcement until after the commemorations of the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution and parliamentary elections earlier that month.
“The administration resorted to secrecy for political and security reasons,” he said, and only provided “engineered statistics” to the public.
He also criticized testing efforts and warned of a renewed outbreak next month as universities hold entrance exams and people mark major Shiite holidays.
Iran’s Health Ministry has reported a total of nearly 330,000 cases and 18,616 deaths, including 189 fatalities in the last 24 hours.
Authorities in Iran have come under heavy criticism since the start of the pandemic because of their reluctance to impose the kind of sweeping restrictions seen elsewhere in the region. Iran is home to the deadliest outbreak in the Middle East.