Published: Mon, December 03, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Israeli police recommend PM Netanyahu be charged with bribery

Israeli police recommend PM Netanyahu be charged with bribery

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.

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

The irony of that evening meeting in December 2016 must haunt the suspects named in the police recommendations on Sunday, including Netanyahu and his wife Sara, and Elovitch and wife Iris.

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

He is already considering whether to charge Mr Netenyahu in two other cases, one relating to allegations the politician accepted presents from businessmen.

Mr Netanyahu immediately rejected the accusations, but the three cases against him have led to speculation that they could eventually force the long-serving prime minister to step down.

Police say there is enough evidence to charge Elovitch with bribery, interfering with an investigation, and financial crimes.

Netanyahu, for his part, denies wrongdoing.

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

The second case, called Case 2000, involves conversations Netanyahu had with Arnon Mozes, the owner of one of Israel's leading newspapers, Yedioth Ahronoth, which is regularly critical of the Prime Minister.

The prime minister compared his defense to Hanukkah, which celebrates "the victory of light over darkness", he said.

Following the latest statement from police on Sunday, opposition politicians once again called on Netanyahu to resign.

Netanyahu has also said he's innocent in those cases.

Mr Netanyahu said the allegations had no legal basis and nothing would come of the investigation.

The decision to indict the Prime Minister can only be made by the Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, who will now review the findings of the police investigation. 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. The White House is trying to build a coalition of Middle Eastern leaders to deter Iran, to that end encouraging the warming of relations between Israel and Arab states that outwardly shun it and sidelining the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Mr Netanyahu held the government's communications portfolio until previous year and oversaw regulation in the field.

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