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Veteran Israeli lawmaker blasts party loyalty to Netanyahu

A veteran Israeli lawmaker is denouncing what he says is his party's "ridiculous" loyalty to its leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is engulfed in a string of scandals.

With his remarks Thursday, Benny Begin emerged as the first prominent dissenting voice from within the Likud party since Netanyahu began a campaign meant to whip up support in recent weeks.

Begin, the son of former Likud Prime Minister Menachem Begin, told Israeli Army Radio he thinks the party loyalty is "utter nonsense."

Netanyahu has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and called the corruption allegations against him a witch hunt orchestrated by a hostile media. He has held boisterous rallies where he criticized the media to hundreds of cheering supporters.

Likud lawmakers have rushed to defend Netanyahu.