Israel police recommends PM Netanyahu be charged with bribery

The police said they had found evidence that "Netanyahu and those close to him blatantly intervened, sometimes on a daily basis, in the content published on the Walla news website, and sought to influence the appointment of senior employees (editors and reporters), while using their ties to Shaul and [his wife] Iris Elovitch". "I am certain that after considering the matters the same conclusion will be reached in this case as well".

A statement issued on Sunday says that Netanyahu is suspected of accepting bribes in exchange for policy decisions that favored Shaul Elovitch, a media mogul that controlled Israel's largest telecom firm, Bezeq, and the Walla News website.

Police have already said there is enough evidence to indict Netanyahu on charges of fraud, bribery, and breach of trust in two separate cases.

The prime minister is also accused of trying to strike a deal with a different leading media company for better coverage in return for limitations being placed on a rival newspaper.

Bezeq telecom company's controlling shareholder Shaul Elovitch, seen here in a Tel Aviv courtroom on February 22, 2018, is suspected of involvement in a scandal in which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu allegedly advanced regulatory decisions as communications minister that benefited Bezeq, in exchange for positive coverage on the company's Walla news site.

Former journalists at the Walla news site have attested to being pressured to refrain from negative reporting of Netanyahu.


The police recommendations do not have any immediate impact on Netanyahu. A final decision whether to prosecute lies with Israel's Attorney General.

It's the third such recommendation to hit the prime minister this year.

Other opposition figures, including opposition leader Tzipi Livni, quickly joined in the call for Netanyahu to resign. "Every day he continues in his position harm to the citizens of this country".

The police also said there was sufficient evidence to indict Mr Elovitch for giving bribes. The first case, referred to as Case 1000, involves gifts of cigars and jewellery bestowed by billionaire benefactors such as Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, whose film credits include Fight Club and Pretty Woman, and Australian businessman James Packer.

In November, police announced that Netanyahu was not a suspect in an additional case, 3000, involving the dubious purchase of naval vessels from a German shipbuilder.

Netanyahu has also said he's innocent in those cases.


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