Israeli police recommend Netanyahu and his wife be charged with corruption

Charlene Craig
December 3, 2018

In a joint statement with the Israel Securities Authority, Israeli police said that sufficient evidence was found to bring bribery charges against Netanyahu and his wife.

The decision whether to indict falls to Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit, who still hasn't ruled on the two other corruption cases in which police have already said Netanyahu should be indicted.

The authorities allege Mr Netanyahu awarded regulatory favours to Bezeq Telecom Israel in return for more positive coverage of him and his wife on a news website, Walla, owned by the company.

There was, however, insufficient evidence to charge Mr Netanyanu's son Yair, police said.

While Netanyahu was questioned as a witness and not a suspect in the submarine case, the accusations against his lawyer and others in the investigation have only added to the pressure the prime minister is facing.

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Police said their investigation has established an evidentiary foundation to charge Mr Netanyahu and his wife Sara with accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust.

Police say their investigation includes the testimony of at least 60 witnesses and five years'work.

Despite his dominance of Israeli politics, the newest police recommendation comes just after his right-wing coalition's majority was reduced to a precarious one seat in parliament.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem November 25, 2018.

The Bezeq case, known as Case 4000, is the most serious of all those of which Netanyahu has been accused.

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The police recommendations do not have any immediate impact on Netanyahu.

The website was used to promote the Prime Minister's personal interests by publishing flattering articles and pictures and removing critical content about him and his family, said the police statement.

In a statement, police said the investigation concluded that Netanyahu and Elovitch engaged in a "bribe-based relationship". Last June, she was formally charged by state prosecutors with fraud and breach of public trust for ordering meals to the official prime minister's residence worth a total of US$99,000, even though a full-time chef was employed there.

Opposition leader Avi Gabbay, chairman of the Zionist Union party, called for the Prime Minister to stand down immediately. "The people of Israel deserve clean leadership".

"He'll send a message to the attorney general that everyone knew about these three police reports and they still voted for him and want him in power", Hazan said. Those benefits included restricting competition in the Israeli ground-line phone market, among other decisions taken by Netanyahu in the years he served as communications minister.

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