Jerusalem [Israel]: The Israeli police on Tuesday recommended that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.
The police said that there was enough evidence to prosecute the Prime Minister on allegations that he had accepted lavish gifts from wealthy businessmen and also tried to negotiate a corrupt deal with a newspaper publisher, reported The Telegraph. Netanyahu is charged with accepting bribes worth one million shekels.
The Prime Minister repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and in a defiant address on Tuesday night, said that he would not resign over baseless police recommendations. “Nothing will divert me from my commitment to the good of the nation. I have not known a day in office without vicious allegations against me and my family,” The Telegraph quoted Netanyahu as saying.
The first probe against the Prime Minister focused on claims that he and his family illegally accepted extravagant gifts including champagne and cigars from Arnon Milchan, an Israeli Hollywood producer, and James Packer, an Australian millionaire. It is believed that to return the favour, Netanyahu allegedly helped to pass legislation that would benefit Milchan’s businesses and also tried to get him a visa to the United States.
The Prime Minister admitted to taking the above-mentioned gifts but claimed that they were presents between friends and had nothing to do with any political favours. It is also believed that Netanyahu offered a corrupt deal to Arnon Mozes, the publisher of Yedioth Ahronoth, one of Israel’s largest newspapers. Netanyahu allegedly said that he would restrict the circulation of Israel Hayom, a free sheet newspaper which had eaten into Yedioth Ahronoth’s market share.
In return, the Prime Minister allegedly wanted more favourable coverage. Netanyahu and his allies also tried to discredit the police investigation and cast it as a political witch hunt. The final decision on whether or not to bring charges against Netanyahu lies with Israeli attorney general Avichai Mandelblit.