Netanyahu's Legal Troubles Mount as Police Seek New Bribery Charges
03 December, 2018, 02:44 | Author: Rachel Logan
Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, should be charged with bribery in a corruption case linked to Israel's telecom giant Bezeq, police have said.
Police say Sunday they have established an evidentiary foundation to charge Netanyahu and his wife Sara with accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust.
Netanyahu argued there was nothing suspicious or illegal with him being in contact with major media outlets owners after police recommended indictment for bribery over allegations that he pushed regulations benefiting Bezeq telecoms in exchange for positive coverage from its Walla news site.
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.
Shortly after the police recommendations were made public, Netanyahu issued a statement saying that the allegations had no legal basis and that ultimately nothing would come of the investigation.
"These recommendations were decided upon and leaked even before the investigation began".
They are suspected of interfering in regulatory decisions that favoured Bezeq and its majority shareholder Shaul Elovitch. 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. In exchange, Elovitch instructed journalists at the news website Walla! to provide favourable coverage of the prime minister and his wife. They also recommended charges be brought against Elovitch, members of his family and members of his Bezeq management team.
The three cases involving the long-serving premier have led to speculation over whether he will eventually have to step down. "Israel must go to elections", said Tamar Zandberg, head of the dovish Meretz party. Hefetz reportedly gave the police text messages and incriminating recordings indicating a quid pro quo relationship between Netanyahu and Bezeq Group.
Netanyahu's colleagues in the ruling Likud party have lined up behind up, attacking outgoing Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh for releasing the recommendation on his last day on the job. A final decision whether to prosecute lies with Israel's Attorney General. The next national election is not due until November 2019. The appointment of Alsheikh's potential successor is being held up after a government-appointed committee rejected his candidacy.
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Denying the charges today, Netanyahu said: "There was nothing because there is nothing".
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