Middle East

Israeli police recommend Netanyahu be charged with corruption: Reports

Netanyahu earlier last week defended his son's demand for prostitute cash from scion of energy baron (AFP)

Israeli police on Tuesday recommended indicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for bribery in two criminal investigations but the Israeli leader, calling the allegations baseless, vowed to remain in office.

Now deep in a cloud of uncertainty over his political future, the right-wing leader will await a final decision by Israel's attorney-general on whether he will face charges, a process that could take weeks or even months.

The recommendations, which police made public on Tuesday night, were at the more serious end of the range of charges that had been expected to be levelled against Netanyahu, now in his fourth term. The investigations have gone on for more than a year.

Netanyahu, who has been prime minister for a total of nearly 12 years, addressed the nation as the news broke on Tuesday night, proclaiming his innocence.

Denying any wrongdoing, Netanyahu said in a televised address: "I will continue to lead Israel responsibly and faithfully."

Police declined to comment when contacted by AFP.

Last week, several Israeli outlets reported that Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich and other police chiefs "are in unanimous agreement that there is sufficient evidence to indict Netanyahu for taking bribes in case 1,000 or the so-called gifts affair."

Police have been investigating Netanyahu over suspicions that he received expensive gifts, including pricey cigars, from wealthy supporters such as Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian billionaire James Packer.

His wife allegedly received bottles of pink champagne. The gifts were reportedly worth some tens of thousands of dollars

Even if eventually indicted, Netanyahu would not be obliged by law to resign as prime minister.

Netanyahu is under investigation in three corruption cases, which have been dubbed case 1,000, 2,000 and 3,000 by police.

The first case, 1,000, revolves around gifts from wealthy supporters including Australian billionaire James Packer.

The second case is concerned with suspicions that Netanyahu discussed a secret deal to help scale down the circulation of Israel Hayom newspaper in exchange for more favourable coverage in rival publication Yediot Aharonot.

The third case centres on fraudulent purchases of German submarines in a $1.5bn deal.

In a Facebook video posted last week, Netanyahu pleaded his innocence, saying “there won’t be anything”.

“At the end of the day, the legal entities will also reach this simple truth: there is nothing,” he said.

Original Article

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