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Netanyahu opposes early polls as graft probes intensify

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Jerusalem, Undefined | AFP | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he opposes early elections, as corruption probes linked to him intensify speculation over his future.

Israeli media have raised the possibility of a June poll, with graft investigations potentially weakening the premier’s ability to hold together his right-wing coalition.

“There is no reason for that to happen if there is good will,” Netanyahu said before departing for a visit to the United States late Saturday.

“For me, there is good will. I hope that the other (coalition) partners also have it.”

Netanyahu will meet US President Donald Trump on Monday at the White House and is set to address pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC on Tuesday.

Israeli police recommended Netanyahu’s indictment in two corruption cases last month and investigations are continuing in others.

He and his wife Sara were questioned by police on Friday in a third case of alleged graft.

At the same time, there are signs that a split is emerging within his coalition that threatens to pull the government apart.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties want a law passed to allow religious students to continue to be exempted from military conscription.

Other members of the coalition oppose such a law, but the ultra-Orthodox have threatened to block a 2019 budget that Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon wants to see approved this month.

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