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Israeli PM Netanyahu will sue political rivals for libel

March 22, 2019 at 6:55 pm

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) gestures as he stands next to the former Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon and Chief of Staff General Benny Gantz (R) at the end of a press conference at the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem, on 27 August 2014 [THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday he would sue two of his main political rivals for libel over remarks relating to a graft scandal involving a German submarine deal, Reuters reports.

In a video published on his Facebook page, Netanyahu said he had instructed his attorneys to take legal action against former armed forces chief Benny Gantz and ex-defence minister Moshe Yaalon, both from the centrist Blue and White party which is seeking to unseat the prime minister in an April 9 election.

Netanyahu faces no charges over the submarine deal but he faces possible indictment in three other corruption cases. He has denied all wrongdoing.

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Netanyahu, a four-term veteran, will become Israel’s longest-serving prime minister in the summer if he wins next month’s election.

But he faces serious challenges on different fronts. The charismatic Gantz has solid credentials on security, traditionally a strong point for Netanyahu. Polls put Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud and Gantz’s Blue and White party neck-and-neck.

Last month Israeli Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit said he intends to indict Netanyahu in three cases on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, pending the outcome of a pre-trial hearing which will take place after the election.

Gantz has sought to focus public attention on the state’s decision not to deem Netanyahu a suspect in the submarine case.

Netanyahu accuses his opponents of carrying out a politically motivated “witch-hunt”.

READ: Israel’s Netanyahu could face new corruption charge in submarine affair