The Latest: Netanyahu's allies rally to his defense

FILE - In this Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018 file photo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's o

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Latest in Israel after police recommended corruption charges against embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (all times local):

9:10 a.m.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's allies from the Likud party are rallying to his defense, a day after police recommended the attorney general indict him on corruption charges.

Likud party lawmaker David Amsalem, the coalition whip, dismissed the police recommendations.

He said on Wednesday that police had committed "an illegitimate act here to attempt a coup d'etat in Israel."

He says "there are things that are forbidden to do in a democratic government and this is one of them."

Culture Minister Miri Regev said the gifts Netanyahu received from American billionaire Arnon Milchan that were cited in the bribery charge were merely "relations between friends."

Regev said in an interview with Israel Radio: "You're allowed to receive presents from friends. To talk about bribery, you've got to point to something that was really done, not just words."

She said there was no need for Netanyahu to step down.


8:35 a.m.

Israeli police have recommended that Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted on bribery and breach of trust charges in two corruption cases.

The development deals an embarrassing blow to the embattled prime minister and is likely to fuel calls for him to resign.

Following the announcement late on Tuesday, Netanyahu angrily rejected the accusations, which included accepting nearly $300,000 in gifts from two billionaires.

He accused police of being on a witch hunt and vowed to remain in office and even seek re-election.

An ashen-faced Netanyahu said in a televised address: "I will continue to lead the state of Israel responsibly and loyally as long as you, the citizens of Israel, choose me to lead you."