Published: Sun, December 02, 2018
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

Israeli police recommend Benjamin Netanyahu face bribery prosecution

Israeli police recommend Benjamin Netanyahu face bribery prosecution

They recommended Ms Sara Netanyahu face charges of bribery, fraud, breach of trust and obstruction of justice.

The newest police recommendation comes as his right-wing coalition's majority was reduced to just one seat in parliament, having enjoyed an nearly total dominance in Israeli politics.

Netanyahu is accused of pushing regulatory benefits worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Bezeq in exchange for positive coverage from subsidiary news site Walla.

The decision on whether to charge Netanyahu rests with Israel's attorney-general, who is still weighing whether to indict the prime minister in the other two cases.

While Netanyahu was questioned as a witness and not a suspect in the submarine case, the accusations against his lawyer and others in the investigation have only added to the pressure the prime minister is facing. Mr Netanyahu is in his second stint as prime minister.

Journalists who previously worked for Walla have confirmed that they were pressured into exclusively covering Netanyahu in a positive light.

The investigation, known as Case 4000, followed suspicions that Netanyahu during his term as the communications minister from 2014 to 2017 intervened with regulators to help the Bezeq Group, which is controlled by businessman Shaul Elovitch.

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Earlier this year, investigators also recommended that Netanyahu be tried for allegedly taking almost $300,000 worth of gifts including expensive cigars and champagne from wealthy friends including Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian billionaire James Packer.

Israel's attorney general has not yet decided whether to prosecute Netanyahu over the allegations.

"I'm sure that in this case the relevant authorities, after examining the issue, will reach the same conclusion: that there was nothing because there is nothing", he said in a statement. Netanyahu, who just two weeks ago brought his coalition from the brink of collapse after a junior partner bolted, denied any wrongdoing.

Police say there is enough evidence to charge Elovitch with bribery, interfering with an investigation, and financial crimes.

Other opposition figures, including opposition leader Tzipi Livni, quickly joined in the call for Netanyahu to resign.

Israeli investigators said they had amassed more evidence that the prime minister traded influence for favors, this time in a case involving the country's largest telecommunications carrier. Netanyahu held the government's communications portfolio until past year and oversaw regulation in the field.

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