Israeli police recommend indicting PM Benjamin Netanyahu on bribery charges

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli police have recommended indicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara for bribery and other offences, the third such recommendation against the premier in recent months.

Police said they had established an "evidentiary foundation" to charge the Netanyahus with accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust.

"There was nothing because there is nothing", he said of the police's recommendations to indict him.

The police have already urged that charges be brought against Netanyahu in two other cases: In Case 1000, Netanyahu is suspected of unlawfully accepting gifts from billionaire friends, while in Case 2000, the prime minister is believed to have negotiated favorable press coverage with the owner of the popular Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth (Ynet).

Mr Netanyahu has long framed this investigation as a witch hunt organised by the media and the accusations against him as personal rather than legal in nature.

Police say there is enough evidence to charge Elovitch with bribery, interfering with an investigation, and financial crimes.

There was, however, insufficient evidence to charge Mr Netanyanu's son Yair, police said.

Israel’s opposition leader Tzipi Livni
Israel’s opposition leader Tzipi Livni

At the time Elovitch was chairman and controlling shareholder of Bezeq.

A year after that tense meeting, in December 2017, as part of his testimony in a separate graft case over allegations Elovitch had defrauded investors, Yeshua would hand his phone over to police, knowing full well what it contained and, say investigators, with great relief at being rid of it.

The final decision on whether to indict rests with Israel's attorney-general, who is still weighing whether to charge Netanyahu in the other two cases.

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

"The prime minister has no moral mandate to keep his seat and must resign today".

The Bezeq case, known as Case 4000, is the most serious of all those of which Netanyahu has been accused. The White House is trying to build a coalition of Middle Eastern leaders to deter Iran, to that end encouraging the warming of relations between Israel and Arab states that outwardly shun it and sidelining the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Last June, she was formally charged by state prosecutors with fraud and breach of public trust for ordering meals to the official prime minister's residence worth a total of US$99,000, even though a full-time chef was employed there.

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.

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