Netanyahu's Legal Troubles Mount as Police Seek New Bribery Charges


Israeli police on Sunday said they had found enough evidence for bribery and fraud charges to be brought against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife in a third corruption case against the Israeli leader.

Police said they have established an evidentiary foundation to charge the pair with accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust.

"The police recommendations regarding me and my wife don't surprise anyone", he said in a statement.

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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.

Mr Netanyahu immediately rejected the accusations, but the three cases against him have led to speculation that they could eventually force the long-serving prime minister to step down. "If there is an election first and Netanyahu wins with everyone knowing about his legal issues, then he can say that despite knowledge of the legal battles, the people still want him".

They are suspected of interfering in regulatory decisions that favoured Bezeq and its majority shareholder Shaul Elovitch.

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The prime minister compared his defense to Hanukkah, which celebrates "the victory of light over darkness", he said.

Fast-forward another year, to December 2, 2018, and those two incidents, the original attempt to allegedly obstruct, and, a year later, Yeshua's coming clean to investigators, form the backbone of a police recommendation document that may be the most serious threat to Netanyahu's political future thus far. "These recommendations were determined and leaked even before the investigations began", he said.

From 2012 to 2017 the prime minister and his associates "blatantly intervened" on a near-daily basis in the Walla news site, using the connections with Elovitch to influence appointments there and to promote flattering articles and pictures while quelling critical stories of the prime minister and his family, police said.

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That act launched what is today known as Case 4000. His wife already faces trial in a separate case for allegedly misusing state funds. The White House is trying to build a coalition of Middle Eastern leaders to deter Iran, to that end encouraging the warming of relations between Israel and Arab states that outwardly shun it and sidelining the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hefetz was, police say, desperate to do something about the Elovitch investigation he believed was underway. 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.