Israeli police push for Netanyahu to be charged after bribery investigation

Israeli PM insists that all the gifts were received from ‘close family friends’ and were not illegal


Israeli police intend to recommend the indictment of Benjamin Netanyahu following a months-long investigation into gifts received by the prime minister and members of his family from rich businessmen.

The police’s decision emerged as a media leak and an opposition MK, Labour’s Micky Rosenthal, has insisted that he has the same information.

Mr Netanyahu insists that all the gifts were received from “close family friends” and are not illegal.

The police recommendation may not necessarily result in an actual indictment. It is up to Attorney-General Avichai Mendelblitt whether to take the prime minister to court.

Under Israeli law, the prime minister does not necessarily have to resign if indicted, and sources close to Mr Netanyahu insist he will not. However, it will be very difficult for him to keep his coalition together in such circumstances. 

In another development in one of the cases regarding the prime minister, it was reported this week that the owners of the Netanyahu-supporting freesheet Israel Hayom, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, are to be questioned by police next week. Their testimony is being sought in “File 2000”, the investigation into allegations of an illegal deal between Mr Netanyahu and the publisher of Yediot Ahronot, Arnon Mozes. In a series of meetings between the two, a deal was allegedly discussed whereby the Yediot daily paper would tone down its critical coverage of the prime minister and, in return, Mr Netanyahu would intercede with the Adelsons to limit the distribution of their freesheet, which was eating away at Yediot’s advertising revenue.

The Adelsons, who reside in the US, have been assured by police that they are not currently suspects in the case and do not face arrest when they arrive in Israel.

The investigators are looking into whether the proposed deal between the Yedioth publisher and the prime minister could have constituted a bribe and whether Israel Hayom’s support of Mr Netanyahu was, in fact, illegal political funding.

A third investigation, “File 3000”, into allegations of corruption in the purchase of submarines and missile boats from a German shipyard, is still ongoing.

A number of former senior naval officers and Mr Netanyahu’s private attorney, David Shimron, have been questioned as suspects in this case. Although there have been reports of the prime minister having shown “unaccustomed interest” in the German arms deals, the Ministry of Justice has officially stated that, for the time being, he is not considered a suspect in the case. 


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