Friday, 14 December, 2018

Israel's Netanyahu should be indicted for corruption, police say

Israel Police Recommend Indicting Benjamin Netanyahu In Corruption Probe Police recommend Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted for bribery
Leonard Rios | 02 December, 2018, 20:53

Israeli police have recommended indicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on bribery charges related to a corruption case involving Israel's telecom giant.

In this long-running scandal, Mr Netanyahu is suspected of passing regulations favouring the Bezeq telecommunications firm in exchange for favourable coverage on the Walla news website, which is owned by Bezeq's controlling shareholder.

The final decision on whether to indict rests with Israel's attorney-general, who is still weighing whether to charge Netanyahu in the other two cases.

"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.

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.

Mr Netanyahu rejected the allegations in what is known as Case 4000. It alleged that Netanyahu sought to interfere with content of Bezeq's Walla website "in a way that would benefit him".

According to a police statement, authorities found evidence of fraud, bribery, and breach of trust.

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".

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In a statement on Sunday, the Israeli leader said that the allegations had no legal basis.

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 offence for a public servant in the Israeli rule book can not keep serving one minute longer", said Tamar Zandberg, head of the dovish opposition Meretz party.

Mr Netanyahu, who has led Israel for four terms, has denied any wrongdoing.

Most of Netanyahu's coalition partners have said they will wait for a decision by the attorney-general before making any decisions about how to react to the allegations.

The Prime Minister's wife, Sara Netanyahu, was charged in July with fraud and breach of trust in a separate investigation, alleging misuse of state funds at the couple's official residence.

The head of the opposition Labour party, Mr Avi Gabbay, renewed his call for Mr Netanyahu to resign after the latest recommendations were released.

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