Israeli Police Recommend Indicting Netanyahu in Graft Probe

Israeli Police Recommend Indicting Netanyahu in Graft Probe

Sunday, 2 December, 2018 - 10:00
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Police have recommended Sunday indicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, on graft charges.

The attorney general will now decide whether to bring indictments in the case, which centers on regulatory benefits allegedly granted to telecommunications firm Bezeq in exchange for positive coverage from a related media company.

Police in February recommended indicting the prime minister in two other corruption investigations.

Netanyahu immediately rejected the accusations against him and his wife, claiming "these recommendations were determined and leaked even before the investigations began."

The prime minister has denied any wrongdoing, dismissing the accusations as a witch hunt orchestrated by the media.

"I'm sure that in this case the relevant authorities, after examining the issue, will reach the same conclusion: that there was nothing because there is nothing," he said in a statement.

Police said there was evidence to charge Netanyahu with bribery, fraud, breach of trust and unlawful acceptance.

They recommended Sara Netanyahu face charges of bribery, fraud, breach of trust and obstruction of evidence.

The three cases involving the long-serving premier have led to speculation over whether he will eventually have to step down.

Police said the investigation, which included the testimony of 60 witnesses, revealed that Netanyahu and Bezeq boss Shaul Elovitch engaged in a "bribe-based relationship."

From 2012 to 2017 the prime minister and his associates "blatantly intervened" on a near-daily basis in the Walla news site, using the connections with Elovitch to influence appointments there and to promote flattering articles and pictures while quelling critical stories of the prime minister and his family, police said.

Police are also recommending charges be brought against Elovitch and members of his family.

"The most serious bribery case yet leaves no room for doubt: a prime minister who is accused of the most serious offense for a public servant in the Israeli rule book cannot keep serving one minute longer," said Tamar Zandberg, head of the dovish opposition Meretz party.

"The prime minister has no moral mandate to keep his seat and must resign today. Israel must go to elections."

Other opposition figures, including opposition leader Tzipi Livni, quickly joined in the call for Netanyahu to resign.

Netanyahu's colleagues in the ruling Likud party have lined up behind up, attacking outgoing Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh for releasing the recommendation on his last day on the job. The appointment of Alsheikh's potential successor is being held up after a government-appointed committee rejected his candidacy.

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