Netanyahu slams media, Israeli left for 'trying to topple me'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's circle attempted to convey calm Sunday amid reports of a slew of corruptions charges against him that threatened to force him from office.

Likud leaders have been putting heavy pressure on party activists to attend the rally on Wednesday evening in Tel Aviv.

Party leaders described it as an attempt to counter a vicious campaign by a hostile media and overzealous police and state prosecution. But the gathering was also seen as a test of Netanyahu's popularity and control over his party.

After two years of investigations - and a lengthy final interrogation by Israel's national fraud squad last week - it is expected that Attorney General Avihai Mandelbilt will accept the police's recommendation, Channel 2 reported.

The rally took place shortly after Ari Harow, a former chief of staff in Netanyahu's government, chose to become a state witness in corruption cases against the prime minister.

In Trumpian fashion, Mr. Netanyahu denounced the "fake news media", which he said had joined with "the left" in what he called "an obsessive and unprecedented witch hunt against me and my family, in order to carry out a coup".

Netanyahu slams media, Israeli left for 'trying to topple me'
Netanyahu slams media, Israeli left for 'trying to topple me'

The expected indictment also comes the same day the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that Mr Netanyahu must disclose his phone calls with USA businessman Sheldon Adelson - from whom it is alleged he received lavish gifts.

"They want to topple not only [me], they want to topple everyone.they know they can not beat us at the voting stations, so they try to attack democracy and topple us without elections", he said. "Remember their cries? Isolation, isolation, isolation", he said. "It's not like I am going tomorrow and they are going to replace me", he said, as quoted by Kan.

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 U.S. casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. The absence of prominent retired Likud personalities such as Moshe Arens, Uzi Landau and Limor Livnat seemed to undermine Netanyahu's and Bitan's message that the prime minister enjoys strong support inside the party. The leaked tapes allegedly record Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Mozes discussing favorable coverage in exchange for reigning in Israel Hayom. A poll on Sunday by Israel's Channel 10 (which, coincidentally, is co-owned by Milchan), found that a staggering 66 percent of Israelis believe Netanyahu should resign should he be indicted, and more than half already believe he is guilty.

Avraham Diskin, a political scientist at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, said there is no immediate threat and the goal of Wednesday's rally was to quash any thoughts of trying to challenge him. "He's conveying that he is still powerful and everyone should keep their knives holstered".

One is based on suspicions that Netanyahu unlawfully received gifts from wealthy supporters.

In June, Mr Packer reportedly agreed to be questioned by Israeli police as part of the corruption investigation into Netanyahu.