Israeli police recommend indicting Benjamin Netanyahu over corruption claims

15 February, 2018, 01:55 | Author: Kim Reid
  • Zionist Union party Avi Gabbay seen during a faction meeting at the Israeli parliament

A police statement on Tuesday said there was enough evidence to indict him for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in two separate cases. "Neither me nor anyone else has plans for elections".

"After reading the recommendations report, I can say that it is a biased, extreme document full of holes, like Swiss cheese", Netanyahu said.

Hadad told Israel Radio that the sums allegedly received by Netanyahu according to police were "inflated, incorrect, unfactual, and simply unacceptable".

The two cases are so-called Case 1000, in which the Prime Minister is suspected of accepting overly expensive gifts from wealthy business leaders in exchange for advancing their interests, and the Case 2000, alleging that Netanyahu attempted to seal a deal with one of the largest Israeli newspapers to provide less critical coverage of him.

The police statement said that Mr Netanyahu, after receiving gifts, pushed for the Milchan Law, which would have ensured that Israelis who return to live in Israel from overseas were exempt from paying taxes for 10 years.

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Opposition politicians, meanwhile, called for Netanyahu to resign and urged his coalition allies to abandon his government.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads the right-wing Jewish Home party, said: "I have chose to wait until the decision of the attorney general".

"It is the duty of every decent public figure to strengthen the police and the law and to act to end the path of the government headed by Netanyahu", Gabbay wrote on Twitter. The investigations also helped to keep deputy head of government Ehud Olmert in jail for more than 14 months, convicted of real estate corruption offenses in 2016, and had to relinquish office in 2009.

Nonetheless, Bennett said he will wait for Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit's decision whether or not to indict the prime minister.

Netanyahu was expected to speak soon.

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There was no immediate reaction from Netanyahu, who has been prime minister for a total of almost 12 years, and police declined to comment when contacted by AFP.

Netanyahu, speaking in a televised statement following the announcement, said he will continue to lead Israel responsibly and faithfully and insisted that nothing will come of the baseless cases against him.

Police said they found an "evidentiary basis" for bribery fraud and breach of trust. And this major charge against me is based on one hour of questioning of Lapid, in a year and a half of investigation, and now it turns out that Lapid is a key witness. Milchan reportedly gave the Netanyahu family gifts worth NIS 750,000 between 2006 and 2017. Police said in return, Netanyahu allegedly provided assistance with visa matters and suggested legislation that would exempt Israelis returning from overseas from paying taxes for 10 years.

Police say that in that in return for lavish gifts that included jewelry, expensive cigars and champagne, Netanyahu had operated on Milchan's behalf on US visa matters, tried to legislate a generous tax break for him and sought to promote his interests in the Israeli media market.

Even in the case of an indictment, Netanyahu may not step down from power. His Likud allies lashed out at Lapid, with Amsalem angrily calling him a "snitch". Netanyahu on Wednesday (Thursday NZT) called into question Lapid's motives for testifying, noting that Lapid "promised to topple me at any cost".

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"That's how criminals talk, not public servants", Lapid responded, saying that as a law abiding citizen he merely gave a short testimony upon the request of police.

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