Pressures appear to be mounting to force Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon out of office. Many would like to see him depart.
Israels chief prosecutor, Edna Arbel, has prepared a draft of an indictment against Sharon to be presented to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz. Mazuz must make the final decision on whether the 76-year-old Sharon will go on trial.
Israels Channel 2, which reported the indictment effort last Saturday, said it may take Mazuz months to decide whether he will accept Arbels recommendations. The Justice Ministry, which represents both Arbel and Mazuz, had no comment on the matter.
Sharons office said he would comment only after Mazuz decides about the indictment.
Some members of Sharons Likud Party and members of other political parties are calling on the prime minister to step down. Sharon has declared he has no such intention.
Prosecutors are accusing Sharon of accepting a bribe in connection with a real estate deal involving his son, Gilad, and developer David Appel, a Likud stalwart. They contend Appel hired Gilad Sharon in 1999 and paid him very sizeable sums to persuade his father, who was then foreign minister, to promote Appels real estate deals.
Sharon denies any wrongdoing as does Appel. Appel was charged in January with trying to bribe Sharon. The embattled prime minister, in recent months, has faced a barrage of allegations of corruption and misconduct concerning multiple scandals. Israeli police are investigating the several cases, but Sharon denies involvement in any of them.
Legal experts are split on the question of whether under the law, Sharon would be forced to resign if he is indicted. Sharon must suspend himselfit is inconceivable for a prime minister to have an indictment against him, said Menachem Klein, political analyst at Israels Bar Han University.
Another of the cases against Sharon alleges that his sons, Gilad and Omri, used a $1.5 million loan from a South African businessman to repay illegal contributions to Sharons campaign. Foreign financing of political campaigns is illegal in Israel.
March 28, Sharons cabinet was reportedly pressuring him to resign if he is indicted.