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‘Gifts for Bibi’ investigation is ‘in final straight’

Two inquiries into the conduct of Israel's Prime Minister – as well as other members of the ruling Likud party – are approaching a conclusion

    The two police investigations into Benjamin Netanyahu are close to completion and the results will be passed on to Israel’s Attorney General.
     
    Police Commissioner Ronny Alsheikh told reporters on Sunday that the investigations were “in their final straight” and that the facts in the two cases were not disputed.
     
    “The debate now is in the interpretation,” he said.
     
    One investigation revolved around undisclosed gifts received over the years by the Prime Minister and his family members, chiefly from Israeli film producer Arnon Milchan, who was revealed last week as having also given jewelry to Sara Netanyahu, in addition to regular gifts of Cuban cigars and champagne.
     
    Mr Milchan and the Netanyahus have claimed these were “gifts” given as part of their long-time friendship.
     
    The second investigation was over a series of meetings between Mr Netanyahu and Arnon Mozes, owner of the Yedioth Ahronoth media group.
     
    The two men were said to have discussed more favourable coverage of the prime minister in Yedioth, and various ways in which Mr Netanyahu could help the media group.
     
    It seems likely Attorney General Avichai Mendelblitt will seek to indict Mr Netanyahu, unless new evidence comes to light.
     
    The gifts case could become a bigger problem for Mr Netanyahu, as investigators have indicated it will be difficult to avoid an indictment over the gifts received from Mr Milchan which are now estimated as totalling around 100,000 NIS (£21,000) over the years.
     
    Meanwhile allegations that the prime minister’s close advisor and attorney, David Shimron, was a beneficiary of a submarine deal pushed by Mr Netanyahu with Germany, c.
     
    Mr Shimron served as the lawyer for the German shipyard’s Israeli representative, and while the prime minister insists he had no knowledge of his advisor’s business activities, police are questioning those involved in the deal to ascertain whether a conflict of interests exists. The prime minister himself has yet to be questioned.
     
    Members of Mr Netanyahu’s coalition have come out openly in his support, discounting rumours of a move to unseat him.
     
    Naftali Bennett, Education Minister,  said he would not seek to “change the government over cigars”, and his colleague from the Jewish Home party, Ayelet Shaked, Justice Minister, has said she would be willing to support a law granting immunity to Mr Netanyahu from corruption investigations, while in office, as well as putting an eight-year term limit into effect for prime ministers.
     
    Such a law, were it to pass, would not affect Mr Netanyahu, only his eventual successor, but it could have an impact on the decision of the law authorities on whether to indict him.

     

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