Israeli police recommend indicting Benjamin Netanyahu for bribery

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Attorney general will examine evidence and decide whether to indict after police investigation of the prime minister in two cases

Benjamin Netanyahu has denied wrongdoing.

Benjamin Netanyahu has denied wrongdoing.
Photograph: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

Israeli police have submitted a recommendation to indict Benjamin Netanyahu on charges of bribery and breach of trust in two corruption investigations against the prime minister.

Following a 14-month investigation, the recommendation has been handed to the country’s attorney general, who will examine the evidence and later – possibly in several months’ time – decide whether to indict.

Shortly after the police recommendation was submitted, Netanyahu held a press conference in Jerusalem, denying any wrongdoing and dismissing rumours that he might resign.

He said the recommendations were the latest in a long list of attempts to remove him from government. “All these attempts end up with nothing because I know the truth. I tell you, also this time, things will end up with nothing.

“I will continue to lead Israel responsibly and faithfully.”

The country has been waiting for month for the recommendation that local media has speculated could force the prime minister to resign.

Police have questioned Netanyahu several times at his official residence in Jerusalem during the past few months regarding two cases in which he is a suspect.

Case 1000, or the so-called “gifts affair”, involves claims that he and his family received valuable gifts from international billionaires, including expensive cigars, pink champagne and jewellery for his wife. Alleged wealthy benefactors include the Hollywood producer and media magnate Arnon Milchan as well as Australian businessman James Packer.

Police were investigating whether the items, worth hundreds of thousands of shekels, were given with the expectation of any benefit.

Separately, Case 2000 relates to secret talks with the publisher of a leading Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, in which Netanyahu allegedly requested positive coverage in exchange for damaging a competitor, the pro-Netanyahu freesheet Israel Hayom.

Having ruled for close to 12 years during four terms, the 68-year-old leader heads a delicately-balanced coalition that keeps him in power.

A poll by the local Channel 10 found last summer that 66% of Israelis believed the premier should resign if indicted. Weekly demonstrations over the slow pace of the investigations have also added pressure on officers to submit a recommendation.

Last week, the investigation was plunged into controversy when the police commissioner, Inspector General Roni Alsheich, suggested the prime minister had sent private investigators to collect information against police officers investigating him.

Netanyahu’s office said the “outlandish” allegations threw a shadow over the corruption investigation. “Any honest person would ask himself how people who say such delusional things about the prime minister can objectively investigate him and honestly give unbiased recommendations,” his Facebook page said.

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