Alleged gifts from James Packer to Israeli PM's family under scrutiny

Alleged gifts from James Packer to Israeli PM's family under scrutiny

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, plagued by corruption allegations, on Wednesday lashed out at the country's left-wing parties and the media, who he said were working together to bring him down.

Thousands of people turned up Wednesday evening for a rally in support of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in light of the recent allegations made against him.

Party leaders described the gathering as an attempt to counter what they believe is a campaign by a hostile media and overzealous police and prosecutors.

Mr Harow - a long time friend and loyal supporter of both Mr Netanyahu and his Likud party - struck a deal to turn state's witness on Friday.

On Thursday, Israeli police for the first time publicly acknowledged that corruption investigations involving Netanyahu revolve around "bribery, fraud and breach of trust", The Times of Israel reported.

The news comes on top of what has been a bad few days for the Netanyahus after the premier's ex chief of staff Ari Harow agreed to testify against his former boss as part of two ongoing investigations into allegations of corruption.

Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing, and his spokesman said in a statement that the politician was the target of "a witch-hunt" created to force him out of office.

He has been questioned several times "under caution" about his alleged ties to powerful figures in Hollywood, media and global business.

Harow was one of Netanyahu's most ardent loyalists, running the prime minister's government office and leading his political campaigns.

"All the alliances, discussions and thinking about the day after have taken on much more significance", said Mr Yoaz Hendel, chairman of the Institute for Zionist Strategies, a right-leaning research group, and a former spokesman for Mr Netanyahu.

"Likud members are not corrupt, but Netanyahu is corrupting Israel", she said.

Netanyahu supporters hoisted signs emblazoned with "Bibi, King of Israel", referring to the prime minister's nickname. Palestinian leaders "will be disappointed too, because it won't happen", he said. 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. It will be up to him to decide whether to follow any recommendation to indict Netanyahu. That means his short-term future will likely depend on whether he can maintain political and public backing.

"Netanyahu is tightening the bolts and exerting his authority", he said.

In a Facebook video, Netanyahu dismissed the developments as "the inevitable scandal-of-the-week". Case 2000 alleges that Netanyahu sought to strike a deal with the Yediot Ahronot in exchange for favorable coverage, while Case 1000 - which has New Regency Films head and prolific producer Milchan at its heart - centers around the accusation that Netanyahu made a regular habit of accepting luxurious gifts, including cases of cigars and his wife's favorite pink champagne, in exchange for favors for influential businessmen.

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