Israel police grill Netanyahu on new fraud case

Cheryl Sanders
March 2, 2018

Police investigators entered Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's official residence in Jerusalem on Friday as authorities continue to investigate the embattled leader over another bribery case.

The Israeli prime minister and his wife Sara are suspects in a bribery case along with the main shareholder of Israel's largest telecoms company, Bezeq.

The case involves accusations that Bezeq owner Shaul Elovitch had instructed the Walla news website, which he owns, to provide Netanyahu with positive coverage.

It is believed that police presented Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu with pieces of evidence collected throughout the investigation and asked them to comment on them.

Netanyahu, Israel's dominant political figure for a generation - in power since 2009 and for 12 years in total since 1996 - calls the allegations against him a "witch hunt".

He's stated that he will seek a fifth term in a nationwide election due in late 2019.

Israeli police investigators have also been grilling Netanyahu for corruption over his involvement in cases 1000 and 2000.

Israel's attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, must decide whether to press charges in either case, a decision that could take months.

Police allege that Bezeq's news site, Walla, provided favorable coverage of Netanyahu and his wife in return for favors from communications regulators.

In one, known as Case 1000, he is suspected of bribery over gifts, which police say were worth almost $300,000, that he received from wealthy businessmen.

The government is also being dogged by Case 3000, which involves allegations of bribes surrounding the purchase of military submarines. Political analysts say this may change whether the investigations against Netanyahu intensify.

So far, partners in Netanyahu's governing coalition have stood by him, saying they were awaiting the attorney-general's next moves.

The cases have fuelled speculation he could be forced to step down or call an early election, but Netanyahu says he is innocent of any wrongdoing.

The development comes ahead of Mr. Netanyahu's visit to Washington where he is to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump and speak before the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC next week.

Other reports by iNewsToday