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Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ridicules corruption allegations against him

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Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ridicules corruption allegations against him

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refutes corruption allegations
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Key coalition partners said on Wednesday they would stick with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for now, pending a decision by the attorney general whether or not to indict him for bribery as recommended by police.

A decision could take months and Netanyahu's government appeared stable for the time being. The right-wing premier has strongly denied the police allegations, calling them "full of holes, like Swiss cheese".

"I want to reassure you, the coalition is stable. No one, not I, not anyone else, has plans to go to an election," Netanyahu told a conference in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, the day after police made their recommendations public. 

"We will continue to work with you for the good of Israel's citizens until the end of the term," he said.

Police on Tuesday said they had found sufficient evidence for the 68-year-old Netanyahu to be charged with bribery in two separate cases, presenting him with one of the biggest challenges to his long dominance of Israeli politics.

It is now up to Israel's attorney general to decide whether to indict Netanyahu and this could take some months to resolve.

Netanyahu has denied wrongdoing in both cases.

With political signals that the government remained solid, Israeli markets rose on Wednesday.

Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who heads the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party, said that as long as Netanyahu was not convicted he should stay in office.

"Truly, right now we are operating in a very synchronised way," he said. "There is no place here for manoeuvering, for any other considerations," Lieberman told the same conference. 

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads the far-right Jewish Home party, told the gathering: "I have decided to wait until the decision of the attorney general ... Regarding the moral aspect, the public will decide on voting day." 

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who heads the centrist Kulanu party, said he would do the same.

Avraham Diskin, a political science professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said none of Netanyahu's coalition partners had any incentive to rock the boat. 

"We don't see for the time being any sign of defectors from the coalition. Maybe individuals will defect," Diskin said. "I don't see any kind of collapse in the foreseeable future."