New coalition chairman MK David Amsalem (Likud) on Saturday night clarified remarks he made earlier in the day at the Israel Bar Association conference in Eilat, and which were perceived as though he suggested that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu should resign if he is indicted in the case in which he is suspected of receiving gifts from wealthy supporters.
"I am sorry to disappoint the left and the media," Amsalem tweeted. "This is my position: The police's recommendations have no weight from a legal and public standpoint. As far as I’m concerned, bribery is the receipt of forbidden envelopes and money, not cigars from a personal friend. An indictment for bribery in this case is not relevant at all to Netanyahu. Shavua Tov.”
Speaking earlier at the Eilat conference, Amsalem said that "a prime minister who is indicted for bribery cannot continue to serve. I think that in a reasonable and logical democratic regime, a prime minister is not investigated because he has received a cigar from his friend. This is a slippery slope. Maybe tomorrow we will arrest a prime minister who received chocolate bars?"
"I do not want to live in a world in which if I want to give my friend a cigar, I'll tell him ‘Wait, I'll call [Attorney General] Mandelblit to ask if it's okay.’ There is an existing law which ties the gift with the service you provide. There is no problem with receiving the gift, there is a problem if you give something in return in the public sphere,” he added.
Amsalem was appointed as coalition chairman late last week, after MK David Bitan (Likud) stepped down from the role as police investigated allegations against him of corruption and mob ties.
Bitan did not resign from the Knesset.