Israel should prosecute Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in two cases of bribery and fraud, the country’s police said on Tuesday, citing evidence it had found in a 14-month-long investigation.
Netanyahu is accused of accepting gifts from a Hollywood producer in exchange for helping him get a United States visa, BBC reported. In another case, he allegedly tried to influence coverage in Israel’s largest newspaper in exchange for help with slowing the growth of a rival paper.
The prime minister called the allegations baseless and said he would complete his fourth term in office. The allegations “will end with nothing”, he said.
Police have questioned Netanyahu several times over the last year. It will be up to Israel’s attorney general to decide whether to file charges, according to Reuters.
The two cases
In the first case, “Case 1000”, Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian businessman James Packer are said to have given gifts, including champagnes, cigars and jewellery, to Netanyahu and his family.
The second case, “Case 2000”, involves Arnon Mozes, the publisher of Israel’s biggest-selling newspaper, who allegedly discussed with the prime minister ways to slow the growth of a rival daily newspaper, including through legislation. Police said Mozes should also face charges.
In both cases, the police have alleged “bribery, fraud and breach of trust by the prime minister”. A police statement said the “gifts” in Case 1000 were worth over 1 million shekels (Rs 1.8 crore). Netanyahu’s lawyers said the presents in the case were simply tokens of friendship.
Netanyahu later said in a televised address that he had never sought to make personal gain from politics.
“I will continue to lead Israel responsibly and faithfully for as long as you, the citizens of Israel, choose me to lead you,” he said. “I am certain, I am certain, that the truth will be revealed, and I am certain that at the next elections, which will be held on schedule, I will earn your trust again, with God’s help.”