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As Netanyahu faces police questioning, rivals look ‘post-Bibi’

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Police questioned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a fourth time on Monday in a corruption investigation that has prompted political rivals to start looking to a “post-Bibi” Israel. Netanyahu, 67, is a suspect in two cases, one involving the receipt of gifts from businessmen and the other related to conversations he held with an Israeli newspaper publisher about limiting competition in the news sector in exchange for more positive coverage. No charges have been brought against Netanyahu, who has been in power since 2009. A spokesman for the prime minister, who has denied wrongdoing, did not respond to a request for comment.

Two investigators in a police car arrived at Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem, said a Reuters TV cameraman outside the home. A police spokeswoman said a statement would be released after the session. “We will finish soon, we are in the final stages,” Police chief Roni Elsheich told reporters earlier about the investigation. Once it is complete, police will decide whether to drop the case or recommend the attorney general bring charges. As speculation bubbles, politicians from across the spectrum have begun maneuvering, believing early elections will probably have to be called if Netanyahu is indicted.

Such a move would most likely lead to his resignation – in 1993 the Supreme Court set a precedent for ministers to step down if they are charged with corruption. It is possible someone from his Likud party could replace Netanyahu without a new vote, but most analysts think it unlikely, predicting an election would have to be called for September or November, depending on developments. The opposition Labor party will hold primaries in July, former defense minister Moshe Yaalon has launched his own party and Avi Dichter, the former head of the Shin Bet intelligence agency and a senior member of Likud, said on Saturday he would consider running for the party leadership.

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