Israeli police recommend PM Netanyahu be charged with bribery

Israeli police recommend PM Netanyahu be charged with bribery

Kerry Wise
December 3, 2018

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

One of them involves allegedly accepting gifts from billionaire friends, and the second surrounds claims trading positive media coverage for advantageous legislation for a newspaper.

Netanyahu argued there was nothing suspicious or illegal with him being in contact with major media outlets owners after police recommended indictment for bribery over allegations that he pushed regulations benefiting Bezeq telecoms in exchange for positive coverage from its Walla news site.

The case, known as Case 4000, is one of the largest facing the Israeli leader and his inner circle.

Two of his top confidants have turned state witnesses and are believed to have provided police with incriminating evidence.

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".

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.

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

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

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

The police recommendations do not have any immediate impact on Netanyahu.

The appointment of Alsheikh's potential successor is being held up after a government-appointed committee rejected his candidacy, and Netanyahu has repeatedly criticized the police as the investigations into his behaviour have mounted.

Israel's attorney general will decide whether to go forward with charges.

Elections are now scheduled for November 2019.

Talk of early elections has become a staple of Israel's political landscape in recent months, but polls have shown the cascade of allegations against Netanyahu wouldn't cost him a fifth term. In return, the police said, Mr. Netanyahu, who personally oversaw the communications ministry from 2014 to 2017, rewarded Bezeq with enormously lucrative concessions, including approval of its merger with Yes, a satellite television company, despite the objections of lower-level ministry officials. Other former employees have accused her of mistreatment, charges the Netanyahus have vehemently denied, and of excessive spending and charging the state for her private, expensive tastes.