Netanyahu: Israeli police recommend indicting prime minister
Benjamin Netanyahu Netanyahu: Israeli police recommend indicting prime minister
Attorney general will examine evidence and decide whether to indict after police investigation of the prime minister in two cases
Israeli police have recommended that Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted on charges of bribery and breach of trust, in an embarrassing blow that has thrown the prime ministerâs political future in doubt.
Following a 14-month investigation into two cases of alleged corruption, the cou ntryâs attorney general will examine the evidence and then â" possibly in several monthsâ time â" decide whether to indict.
The country has been anxiously waiting for the prosecutorâs recommendation, which local media has speculated could force the prime minister to resign.
A police statement late on Tuesday said that enough evidence had been gathered against the prime minister for committing the crimes of âbribery, fraud, and breach of trustâ.
Minutes after the news of the police report spread across Israeli media, Netanyahu held a press conference in Jerusalem, vehemently denying any wrongdoing and dismissing rumours that he would step down.
He said the development was the latest in a long list of endeavours to remove him from government. âAll these attempts end up with nothing because I know the truth. I tell you, also this time, things will end up with nothing.
âI will continue to lead Israel responsibly and faithfully,â he said, adding he plans to run in elections that must be held by the end of next year.
Police have questioned Netanyahu several times at his official residence in Jerusalem during the past few months regarding thetwo cases in which he is a suspect.Israeli PM's wife recorded yelling at aide over gossip column Read more
Case 1000, or the so-called âgifts affairâ, involves claims that he and his family received valuable gifts from international billionaires, including expensive cigars, pink champagne and jewellery for his wife. Alleged wealthy benefactors include the Hollywood producer and media magnate Arnon Milchan as well as Australian businessman James Packer.
In a statement, police said Netanyahu had accepted gifts valued at 750,000 shekels (Â£150,000, $208,300) from Milchan, and 250,000 shekels (or Â£51,000, $70,822) from Packer. In return, Netanyahu had helped Milchan, a producer who has worked on Pretty Woman and Fight Club, on US visa matters and Israeli tax breaks.
Police said that in return, Netanyahu had operated on Milchanâs behalf on U.S. visa matters, legislating a tax break and connecting him with an Indian businessman. It said he also helped Milchan, an Israeli producer whose credits include âPretty Woman,â ââ12 Years a Slaveâ and âJFK,â in the Israeli media market.
Separately, Case 2000 relates to secret talks with the publisher of a leading Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, in which Netanyahu allegedly requested positive coverage in exchange for damaging a competitor, the pro-Netanyahu freesheet Israel Hayom.
Police said both Milchan and Mozes could be charged with bribery. Neither made an immediate comment.
Having ruled for close to 12 years during four terms, the 68-year-old leader heads a delicately-balanced coalition that keeps him in power.
Former prime minister and political rival Ehud Barak called on Net anyahu to suspend himself and for the coalition to choose a replacement.
âThe depth of corruption is horrifying,â Barak said. âThis does not look like nothing. This looks like bribery.â
A poll by the local Channel 10 found last summer that 66% of Israelis believed the premier should resign if indicted. Weekly demonstrations over the slow pace of the investigations have also added pressure on officers to submit a recommendation.
Last week, the investigation was plunged into controversy when the police commissioner, Inspector General Roni Alsheich, suggested the prime minister had sent private investigators to collect information against police officers investigating him.
Netanyahuâs office said the âoutlandishâ allegations threw a shadow over the corruption investigation. âAny honest person would ask himself how people who say such delusional things about the prime minister can objectively investigate him and honestly give unbiased recommendations,â his Facebook page said.
On Tuesday evening, tourism minister Yariv Levin suggested the police were attempting to overthrow Netanyahu.
âThis despicable move revealed tonight is an effort to stage a coup against the will of the voter,â Levin says.Topics
- Benjamin Netanyahu
- Middle East and North Africa
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