JERUSALEM (AP) – A close political ally of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was charged Tuesday with a series of corruption offenses allegedly committed while serving as a Likud member of parliament.
Attorney General approved indictment of David Bitan, former coalition chairman in Netanyahu’s government, accusing him of accepting bribes, breach of trust and tax offenses in seven cases different. They were allegedly committed while he was a city councilor in the central Israeli town of Rishon Lezion and a member of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament.
Bitan allegedly accepted more than $ 200,000 in bribes while in public office. Other people charged in these cases include a deputy mayor of Tel Aviv and former Israeli footballer Haim Revivo.
As a sitting member of the Knesset, Bitan can seek immunity from prosecution in parliament. Bitan’s lawyers said in a statement that the court would find he had not committed any wrongdoing.
Netanyahu himself is on trial for fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in a series of cases while he was prime minister. He was indicted in 2019 and his trial began last year. The former prime minister denied any wrongdoing, accusing the police and the media of “witch hunts” to remove him.
The longtime leader was ousted from his post as prime minister last month when rivals Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid struck a deal to form a unity government with a range of disparate parties ranging from a small Islamist faction to ultranationalist Jews. Netanyahu is now the opposition leader in the Knesset.