Israel police want PM Benjamin Netanyahu and wife tried for graft

Geraldine Edwards
December 3, 2018

Israeli police have said they have found evidence to recommend pursuing bribery and corruption charges against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife.

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

Investigators recommended that Netanyahu's wife, Sara, be indicted on bribery charges, too, but the prime minister said the couple would be cleared.

The Israeli Prime Minister is accused of interfering in regulatory decisions in favour of the Bezeq group and it's chief shareholder Shaul Elovitch - in exchange for favorable reporting on the Walla news website.

Between 2012 and 2017, the police said, Mr. Netanyahu "intervened in a blatant and ongoing manner, and sometimes even daily", in coverage at Walla, a news website owned by [telecommunications company] Bezeq, ensuring "flattering articles and pictures" were published and "removing critical content" about him and his family.

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Police have already recommended indicting Netanyahu on corruption charges in two other cases.

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

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

In Case 1000, Netanyahu is suspected of having received gifts from businessmen overseas totaling 1 million shekels (approximately $280,000), including cigars, champagne, jewelry and more, from 2007 through 2016.

It's the third such recommendation to hit the prime minister this year.

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"The prime minister has no moral mandate to keep his seat and must resign today". "Only recently, police recommendations in cases against other public figures were rejected by the relevant authorities".

Israel's attorney general Avichai Mandelblit will make the final decision as to whether to indict the prime minister.

Earlier this year, investigators also recommended that Netanyahu be tried for allegedly taking almost $300,000 worth of gifts including expensive cigars and champagne from wealthy friends including Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian billionaire James Packer.

Both Netanyahu and his wife have been hounded by corruption allegations.

"The question is what will happen first: Will the attorney-general decide to prosecute or will the Government collapse?" said Reuven Hazan, a professor of political science at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. "A person with such a sickly obsession with what the media says about him must not lead the State of Israel". 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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