Israeli police recommend indicting Netanyahu in telecom case

Aaron Brown
December 3, 2018

This time it is on suspicion that the leader eased business regulations for the country's largest telecommunications company in exchange for favourable coverage for him and his wife on a popular news website owned by the firm.

The Bezeq case, known as Case 4000, is the most serious of all those of which Mr Netanyahu has been accused. A final decision whether to prosecute lies with Israel's Attorney General.

Netanyahu last month was almost forced to call elections after a key partner withdrew from his coalition to protest a cease-fire with the Hamas militant group in Gaza.

In a joint statement with the Israel Securities Authority, police said they also found sufficient evidence to charge Bezeq's controlling shareholder Shaul Elovitch with bribery, as well as other officials at the company.

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.

"I am sure that also in this case the relevant authorities, after examining the matter, will reach the same conclusion - that there was nothing because there is nothing", he said.

Netanyahu reiterated a phrase he has used since all the investigations against him were launched more than two years ago - "that there was nothing because there is nothing".

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This is the third case in which the police have recommended charging the prime minister with bribery. Now he appears to be facing the challenge of both - legal charges and an election.

The decision to indict the Prime Minister can only be made by the Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, who will now review the findings of the police investigation. But Netanyahu may want to seek a renewed mandate from the people, forcing a prosecutor to think twice before indicting him.

Investigators have questioned Netanyahu several times in connection with this case, partly based on the testimony of Nir Hefetz, a former adviser to the prime minister who turned witness.

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.

The prime minister has argued that he is the victim of a left-wing and media conspiracy to topple his conservative government.

Other opposition parties quickly joined in the call for Mr Netanyahu to resign.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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