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Netanyahu faces imminent police verdict over luxury gifts from film producer friend

It is unclear if accusations against prime minister will include bribery

    (Photo: Flash90)

    An Israeli police recommendation to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared imminent this week in connection to a series of corruption cases that have been under investigation for over a year.

    Roni Alsheikh, the police commissioner, held a final meeting with the investigation team on Wednesday where officials summed up the findings that would be presented to Attorney-General Avichai Mendelblitt next week.

    According to leaked information published by the Israeli media, the police will recommend indicting Mr Netanyahu for repeatedly accepting gifts including jewellery, champagne and cigars from the Israeli film producer Arnon Milchan.

    The prime minister maintained in eight separate police interviews that these were completely legal gifts from a friend.

    What is unclear is whether police will add a charge of bribery to their recommendations, linking the gifts to assistance from Mr Netanyahu to Mr Milchan for a visa to travel to the United States.

    Related: The five corruption allegations facing Netanyahu explained

    Police are also expected to pass on their findings in a second corruption investigation against Mr Netanyahu concerning the prime minister's dealings with newspaper proprietors. But it is not known whether they will recommend an indictment in this case, or simply present an overview of their findings. 

    While it is up to the attorney general to decide whether to ultimately press charges against Mr Netanyahu, the police recommendations are already the focus of much public controversy.

    The prime minister has already announced that he has no intention to resign – indeed, he is only required to do so by law if convicted – and an open feud has opened up between him and Police Roni Alsheikh, a man he once endorsed enthusiastically for the police commissioner post. 

    In a pre-recorded interview that appeared on Channel 12 on Wednesday night, Mr Alsheikh claimed that “very influential powers” had launched investigations of their own “to collect information on the officers [who are investigating the prime minister].”

    Mr Netanyahu responded to this thinly veiled accusation of trying to obstruct the investigation with a fierce post on his Facebook account around midnight, where he wrote that the commissioner’s “deluded and lying hint that the prime minister allegedly sent private investigators against police officers” was shocking and that it “cast a great shadow over police investigations and its recommendations in the prime minister's case.”

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