Israeli police recommend indicting Netanyahu in telecom case

Hugh Fox
December 3, 2018

Investigators said Netanyahu should stand trial on charges of accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust and fraudulently accepting benefits.

Police are also recommending that charges be brought against Netanyahu's wife, Sara, who has been at the centre of much of the corruption allegations surrounding the longtime Israeli leader.

The case revolves around suspicions that confidants of Mr Netanyahu promoted regulations worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the Bezeq telecom company in exchange for positive coverage of the prime minister on Bezeq's subsidiary news website Walla.

The police have already urged that charges be brought against Netanyahu in two other cases: In Case 1000, Netanyahu is suspected of unlawfully accepting gifts from billionaire friends, while in Case 2000, the prime minister is believed to have negotiated favorable press coverage with the owner of the popular Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth (Ynet).

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Police say there is enough evidence to charge Elovitch with bribery, interfering with an investigation, and financial crimes. Other former employees have accused her of mistreatment, charges the Netanyahus have vehemently denied, and of excessive spending and charging the state for her private, expensive tastes.

This is the third corruption probe in which police have recommended charges against the prime minister. "No Bibi, no investigation", he claimed was the motto of investigators, Netanyahu said, referring to himself by his nickname.

Police said Sunday their investigation found that between 2012 and 2017, "the prime minister and his confidantes crudely and consistently, at times on a daily basis, intervened in the content published by the Walla news website".

Israel's attorney general Avichai Mandelblit will make the final decision as to whether to indict the prime minister.

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The Bezeq case, known as Case 4000, is the most serious of all those of which Netanyahu has been accused.

The head of the opposition Labour party, Mr Avi Gabbay, renewed his call for Mr Netanyahu to resign after the latest recommendations were released.

The prime minister compared his defense to Hanukkah, which celebrates "the victory of light over darkness", he said. "A person with such a sickly obsession with what the media says about him must not lead the State of Israel".

"A prime minister with so many criminal cases around him can not continue in his job and must resign", said Avi Gabbay, the head of the Labor party.

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"The question is what will happen first: Will the attorney-general decide to prosecute or will the Government collapse?" said Reuven Hazan, a professor of political science at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Those benefits included restricting competition in the Israeli ground-line phone market, among other decisions taken by Netanyahu in the years he served as communications minister.

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