Benjamin Netanyahu will be questioned by police for a sixth time in the ongoing corruption investigations against him after an interview lasting four hours at his official residence in Jerusalem last week.
The investigation into alleged gifts received by the Israeli Prime Minister and his wife appeared to be entering its final straight before the case is passed on to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who will decide on a possible indictment.
According to media leaks in Israel, last week’s questions centred on a series of issues raised by Mr Netanyahu’s former chief of staff Ari Harow, who this summer agreed to provide testimony on behalf of the state in the two cases in which the Prime Minister is considered a suspect.
Mr Netanyahu is expected to be questioned again next week.
Testimony was given to the police by employees of Arnon Milchan, the Israeli Hollywood producer who is said to have sent hundreds of thousands of shekels’ worth of cigars and champagne to the Prime Minister and his wife.
Mr Milchan’s personal assistant Hadas Klein reportedly told police that the purchase of champagne was not initiated by Milchan or any associates, but “always by the Netanyahu couple”.
Ms Klein continued: “Sara would ask for bottles in (crates of) six or twelve champagne bottles. Bibi would ask for cigars and knew the quantities of bottles his wife received.
“A company driver would go to Jerusalem especially to supply the cigars and champagne.”
But Ms Klein is reported to have told police that the deliveries of these high-value items “was not in return for anything specific” although police believe that Mr Netanyahu assisted Mr Milchan in receiving a long-term work visa for the United States.
A long-time legal adviser to the Netanyahu family, Yaakov Weinroth, said in a television interview last week that it was legitimate for the couple to accept gifts from their wealthy friends.
The Prime Minister “admires wealth as part of his view of the world. I know his weakness for wealthy people,” Mr Weinroth said, adding that he was an “honest man” who “doesn’t live in the world of prices. He spent a fortune on cigars for himself for years.”
Mr Netanyahu’s spokesman dismissed the latest reports as a “plague of fake news”.
He said: “What is being alluded to the Prime Minister and his wife is untrue. The Prime Minister and his wife acted according to the law”.