Mideast Daily News

Israeli Coalition Chairman Resigns Amid Corruption Probe

By Charles Bybelezer | The Media Line

December 21, 2017

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Israeli coalition chairman David Bitan resigned from his powerful parliamentary role as he contends with a wide-ranging police investigation into suspected fraud, money laundering and breach of trust. Bitan, an outspoken ally of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, is suspected of having accepted bribes from organized crime figures in Rishon Lezion after he became deputy mayor of the city in 2005, and of rigging a municipal tender in favor of an associate in exchange for money. It comes as police are expected to recommend that criminal charges be brought against Netanyahu in connection with two corruption probes. In “Case 1000″ the premier is suspected of having accepted gifts totaling upwards of $150,000 from benefactors in return for advancing their business interests; whereas in “Case 2000” Netanyahu purportedly sought more favorable coverage from the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper in exchange for curbing the distribution of rival tabloid Israel Hayom. Lawmaker David Amsalem, also a member of the ruling Likud party, has been appointed new coalition chairman. Bitan will keep his seat in the Knesset, thereby retaining his parliamentary immunity.

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