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Israeli minister resigns amidst corruption allegations

Israeli minister resigns amidst corruption allegations

Jerusalem: Israel's welfare minister resigned from the cabinet following attorney general's decision to charge him of corruption.

Haim Katz, Israel's welfare minister and a lawmaker with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, offered his resignation in a letter handed to the prime minister on Friday, Xinhua reported.

"The attempt to slander me and render my motives impure, while my work as a lawmaker was done honestly and in good faith, is baseless and bound to fail," he wrote, according to a statement released on his behalf.

Israel's Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced on Wednesday that Katz will be charged with fraud and breach of trust.

In his notice, Mandelblit said that Katz has advanced legislation aimed to provide financial benefits to Equital, a major Israeli holding company owned by Katz's close associate and his financial adviser.

Under Israeli regulations, Katz had to resign after the announcement of the expected indictment. However, Katz said he intends not to resign from the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in order to enjoy the parliamentary immunity bestowed to lawmakers.

The affair comes at a bad timing to Netanyahu's Likud, who is seeking to be re-elected in the Sept. 17 elections.

Netanyahu himself faces several corruption allegations and is expected to stand for a hearing before Mandelblit would decide whether to press charges against him.

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