Israeli police recommend bribery charges against Netanyahu with "sufficient evidence"

Pauline Gross
February 14, 2018

The right-wing premier has strongly denied the police allegations, calling them "full of holes, like Swiss cheese". "Neither me nor anyone else has plans for elections".

The first case against Netanyahu relates to gifts, worth almost $300,000, allegedly given to him and his family by business figures in exchange for political favours.

Police investigators released their recommendation for an indictment on Tuesday, alleging that Netanyahu had accepted almost $300,000 in gifts from two billionaire friends and that, in exchange, the prime minister had helped them with visa matters, tax breaks and business connections.

Netanyahu's political rivals are jockeying for position to take advantage of these charges.

Police said that in return, Netanyahu had operated on Milchan's behalf on US visa matters, legislated a tax break and connected him with an Indian businessman.

But opposition politicians have called on Netanyahu to step down and urged his coalition allies to abandon his government.

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert resigned from office after police recommended he be indicted for graft.

"I believe this government will go the distance", he said. Such a move, however, would also be risky, with several recent polls showing ebbing support for the prime minister.

"The time has come to put an end to the culture of government corruption, which is destroying everything good in the country".

His decision could take weeks or months.

"Regarding the moral aspect, the public will decide on voting day".

He said his lengthy political career has been exclusively "for the good of the nation", and accused police of being on a witch hunt against him. Netanyahu has served as prime minister since 2009, and previously from 1996 to 1999.

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"Until then, I will continue to lead and navigate the economy for the welfare of the citizens of Israel", Kahlon said.

Israeli police said Tuesday that there was ample evidence for Netanyahu to be indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in two separate cases.

The total value of the gifts received between 2007 and 2016 is estimated at around one million shekels (229,000 euros, $283,000), according to police.

In exchange for the gifts, police say, Netanyahu tried to advance a tax break that would have benefited Milchan, though he was blocked by the Finance Ministry.

Netanyahu's lawyers said the presents were simply tokens of friendship. But it said the reports in Israeli media on the contents of the meeting are "factually incorrect and appear to have been motivated".

Meanwhile, it emerged how opposition leader Yair Lapid testified in one of the two investigations which led to recommendations for Netanyahu's indictment. David Amsalem, another Netanyahu confidant, called Lapid a "snitch". Almost all of Netanyahu's Cabinet ministers issued statements of support and his coalition partners all signaled they would stick by him, for now. At their first news conference together, Netanyahu said of Trump, "There is no greater supporter of the Jewish people and the Jewish state".

The Israeli prime minister is likely to face bribery and fraud charges.

But Netanyahu remained defiant.

Hadad says Netanyahu "didn't receive bribes at all".

He is also suspected of having tried to assist Milchan, who is Israeli, in obtaining a U.S. visa extension, as well as of seeking to promote the producer's business interests in Israel.

They have also been probing allegations that Netanyahu sought a secret deal for favourable coverage with the publisher of top-selling newspaper Yediot Aharonot.

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

Other reports by GizPress

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