Published: Thu, February 15, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Police Recommend Indictments of Netanyahu

Police Recommend Indictments of Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the Muni World 2018 conference in Tel Aviv, Israel February 14, 2018.

As damning as the recommendation sounds, it probably does not spell the downfall of one of the country's longest-serving prime ministers - at least not yet.

A final decision on whether Mr Netanyahu should face charges will come down to the attorney general's office.

Israeli police on Tuesday recommended that Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted in a pair of corruption cases, media reported, in an embarrassing blow to the embattled prime minister that is likely to fuel calls for him to step down.

The accusations against Mr Netanyahu are grave, even when compared with a long list of other ministers, including his predecessor Ehud Olmert, who served prison sentences. "We will continue to work together with you for the citizens of the State of Israel, until the end of our term", in late 2019. His coalition controls 66 seats out of 120 in parliament.

Netanyahu's lawyers said the presents were simply tokens of friendship. He added that he would continue as Prime Minister, and kept repeating what has become his catchphrase, "There will be nothing because there is nothing".

Yair Lapid, head of the centrist opposition party Yesh Atid, said "there is no choice but to tell the truth when the police ask for explanations in a serious corruption case". All the parties in his right-wing coalition have said that they will not bring down the government, fearing that elections at this point could serve the left-wing opposition.

The gifts allegedly included pricey cigars, jewellery, and champagne.

The poll also showed that despite the scandal around the prime minister, the level of support for the Likud party remained rather high.

The total value of the gifts received between 2007 and 2016 is estimated at around 1 million shekels (229,000 euros, $283,000), according to police.

Under the alleged agreement between Mozes and Netanyahu - which was never implemented - the prime minister said he would advance legislation to curb the circulation of Israel Hayom if Mozes instructed his reporters and op-ed writers to change their often negative stance toward him.

In Case 2000, police say Netanyahu discussed "bartering" with Arnon "Noni" Mozes, the owner of one of Israel's leading newspapers, Yedioth Ahronoth, which is regularly critical of the Prime Minister.

The suspicions relate to a series of interventions that Netanyahu is said to have carried out on Milchan's behalf dating back three years, to when the Hollywood producer sought to sell the majority of his shares in the financially strapped Channel 10.

Initially, Mandelblit's spokesperson refused to confirm or deny the reports about scrutiny of the police from anonymous state prosecution officials, but on Thursday morning he issued a statement confirming that "the publication of the police regarding the completion of their investigation into Cases 1000 and 2000 was done in complete coordination with the attorney-general". He would be legally forced to step down if convicted and with all appeals exhausted. He has largely remained out of the public eye since his release, but Israeli media reported that he broke his silence on the Netanyahu case last week.

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