Published: Wed, February 14, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Benjamin Netanyahu: Israeli police recommend charging Prime Minister over alleged bribery

Benjamin Netanyahu: Israeli police recommend charging Prime Minister over alleged bribery

Police said Netanyahu should be indicted in two different cases levelled against him, however the prime minister has doubled down on his claim that "nothing will come" of the indictment calling the accusations "biased, ugly and against the facts".

In a televised address, a stern-looking Mr Netanyahu said the recommendations against him were baseless and that he would "continue to lead Israel responsibly and faithfully".

"Over the years, I have been the subject of at least 15 inquiries and investigations", Netanyahu said. And like those times, I am telling you: "This time, too, nothing will come out of all this", he said.

The second, Case 2000, also alleges "bribery, fraud and breach of trust by the Prime Minister" and by the publisher of the biggest-selling Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, Arnon Mozes.

The police instanced two cases, one in which Netanyahu allegedly accepted a couple hundred thousand dollars in bribes from Australian businessmen in return for favorable treatment of his business and attempting to get him a USA visa.

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Police said there was sufficient evidence against Netanyahu for the offense of accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust regarding his connection with Arnon Milchan and fraud and breach of trust In connection with Packer.

Police will now pass the evidence to the attorney general, who will make a decision on whether or not to indict the Prime Minister.

Israeli opposition politicians, on the other hand, renewed calls for Netanyahu to resign in the wake of the police recommendation.

Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin (Likud) said that the police recommendations are part of "a contemptible move to stage a government coup against the will of the voter".

Police said that both Milchan and Mozes could be charged with bribery.

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Nearly immediately, Netanyahu held a defiant press conference in Jerusalem, emphatically denying any wrong-doing. The gifts allegedly included cigars, champagne, jewelry and clothing, and were valued at over a quarter of a million dollars. She added that the police recommendations "have no legal validity". Confidants - including his personal lawyer and the lead negotiator in some of Israel's most delicate diplomacy of recent years - are suspected of wrongdoing in a $2.5 billion deal to purchase submarines and patrol boats from Germany's ThyssenKrupp AG.

Case 1000 charges Netanyahu and his wife Sara with receiving gifts from billionaire benefactors, including Israeli-born Hollywood producer Milchan and Australian businessman James Packer.

Netanyahu's Likud supporters rallied to the prime minister's defense. "You get NIS 40,000 a month and are barely ever here in the Knesset, you take the people's money and travel the world, staying in fancy hotels and making yourself out to be Israel's foreign minister". Some have ended with thunderous police recommendations like those of tonight.

While an indictment alone would not legally oblige Netanyahu to resign, he would likely face pressure to do so. He would be legally forced to step down if convicted and with all appeals exhausted. His coalition now controls 66 seats out of 120 in that chamber.

Netanyahu, who has held office since 2009, stands accused of accepting gifts in exchange for preferential treatment and political favours as well as allegations he attempted to bribe Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth for favourable coverage.

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