Israeli Police Call For Charging Netanyahu With Bribery

The case surrounds suspicions that Netanyahu's government gave regulatory favours to telecoms company Bezeq in exchange for favourable coverage of the PM.

"I'm sure that in this case the relevant authorities, after examining the issue, will reach the same conclusion: that there was nothing because there is nothing", he said in a statement.

They accuse the prime minister and Bezeq boss Shaul Elovitch, who they also recommend be charged, as having shared a "bribe-based relationship" which saw Mr Netanyahu and his associates intervene in news coverage on an nearly daily basis.

The prime minister has denied any wrongdoing.

Mr Netanyahu denied the bribery allegations against him and his wife. It alleged that Netanyahu sought to interfere with content of Bezeq's Walla website "in a way that would benefit him". Police say Mrs Netanyahu coordinated the coverage.

They also recommended charges be brought against Elovitch, members of his family and members of his Bezeq management team. But his fate now lies in the hands of his attorney general, who will decide in the coming months whether the prime minister should stand trial on a host of corruption allegations that could play a central role in next year's election campaign.

A spokesman for Mr Netanyahu said there was no legal basis for the police recommendations and that ultimately nothing would come of the investigation.

The next legislative poll is scheduled for November 2019.

They recommended Ms Sara Netanyahu face charges of bribery, fraud, breach of trust and obstruction of justice. In return, the police said, Mr. Netanyahu, who personally oversaw the communications ministry from 2014 to 2017, rewarded Bezeq with enormously lucrative concessions, including approval of its merger with Yes, a satellite television company, despite the objections of lower-level ministry officials.

"He'll send a message to the attorney general that everyone knew about these three police reports and they still voted for him and want him in power", Hazan said.

Two of his top confidants have turned state witnesses and are believed to have provided police with incriminating evidence.

The head of the opposition Labour party, Mr Avi Gabbay, renewed his call for Mr Netanyahu to resign after the latest recommendations were released.

Despite the ongoing criminal investigations, which began a year and a half ago, Netanyahu has held on to the support of his Likud party and his coalition.

  • Joey Payne