Jerusalem, Feb 14: Israeli police on Tuesday recommended charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in two separate corruption cases.
After the month-long investigation, the police handed over their recommendation to Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who will decide whether to press charges against the prime minister, reported Xinhua.
In a formal statement, the police said that they have concluded that there is “sufficient evidence” against Netanyahu in the cases.
In the first case, dubbed by the police “case 1000,” Netanyahu allegedly accepted bribery from an Israeli businessman and Hollywood tycoon Arnon Milchan and an Australian businessman, James Packer.
The police said between 2007 and 2016, Netanyahu and his family received expensive cigars, champagne and jewellery worth about a million shekels (approximately $282,800).
Following the re-election of Netanyahu as prime minister in 2009, “the scope and frequency of the transfer of goods increased significantly,” the statement said.
In return for the goods, Netanyahu allegedly approached US officials and asked them to extend Milchan’s visa to the US.
He also acted to promote a law that gives tax exemption for returning Israeli residents who were living abroad for over 10 years, known as the “Milchan Bill,” and helped Milchan to promote his investment in the Israeli media.
In another case, dubbed “case 2000,” Netanyahu allegedly received bribes from Arnon Mozes, the publisher of Yedioth Aharonoth, one of Israel’s largest newspapers.
The police said Netanyahu and Mozes held talks over an “exchange deal,” in which Netanyahu would receive favourable coverage in Yediot Aharonot in return for promoting a law and other measures that would limit the distribution of Israel Hayom, Yedioth’s main rival.
Netanyahu maintained his innocence in a video statement broadcast on all of the main channels in the country and on his Facebook page.
He accused the police of launching the investigation in order to “topple” him from power.
“Things will end without anything,” he said in an address from the courtyard of the official Prime Minister’s residence in Jerusalem.
“These recommendations have no place in a democratic state,” he said.
Lawmakers with the opposition called on Netanyahu to resign, saying he is not capable of performing his duties under the serious suspicion.
But sources close to Netanyahu said he would resign only if he was found guilty in the court of law.