Israeli AG lauds police probe into Netanyahu

Israeli police recommended on Tuesday that Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted for allegedly accepting bribes and breaching public trust, leaving the Attorney General to decide whether to ultimately press charges on the embattled politician.

The second, Case 2000, also alleges "bribery, fraud and breach of trust by the Prime Minister" and by the publisher of the biggest-selling Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, Arnon Mozes.

It remains to be seen what will happen in these two cases, and the Israeli Attorney General, Amichai Mandelblit (from the Likud party and an honest man and public servant) may take months to go over the evidence provided by the police. The latest opinion polls say that 53 percent of Israelis believe the police, and around half believe he should resign.

In both cases, police state that an evidentiary basis exists to indict the prime minister. In one of the investigations, known as Case 1000, Netanyahu is alleged to have received NIS 1 million worth of gifts, including NIS 750,000 ($212,000) from Milchan.

Netanyahu is at the center of two probes.

From 2009 "Netanyahu and Arnon Mozes held conversations and personal meetings during which they discussed helping each other as a quid pro quo to advance their respective interests", said police.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, a bitter rival of Netanyahu, called on him to suspend himself and for the coalition to appoint a replacement on Wednesday morning.

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According to The Associated Press, reactions to the allegations against Mr. Netanyahu have largely fallen along partisan lines, with almost all of the prime minister's cabinet ministers having issued statements of support, and his coalition partners having all signaled they will stick by him, for now.

Netanyahu is said to have promised in return that he would make sure Yisrael Hayom (the newspaper published by his patron, the American casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson), would stop publishing a Friday edition and thus ensure Yediot would receive all the lucrative Friday advertising income.

The statement added that the plan foresees the establishment of a free trade corridor to Haifa to facilitate exports and offset higher logistics costs in Israel.

When asked whether Netanyahu is corrupt, 48 per cent of the respondents said yes, including 28 per cent who said he was very corrupt and 20 per cent who deemed him somewhat corrupt.

On March 5, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to visit US President Donald Trump in Washington, the White House has announced. No one, not I and no one else, plans to go to elections. Netanyahu stated earlier this month that the Trump administration was ready to greenlight Israel's annexation of some settlements, but the Trump administration promptly and forcefully denied the claim.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett said "taking gifts" as Netanyahu is alleged to have done was not up to the "standard" of a prime minister.

In his TV address, Netanyahu said that his entire three-decade political career, which included serving as Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, a previous stint as prime minister in the 1990s, and a series of Cabinet posts, was meant only to serve the Israeli public.

  • Megan Austin