Israel Police Recommend Indicting Benjamin Netanyahu In Corruption Probe

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In February, police recommended indicting Mr Netanyahu in two other corruption investigations.

Police say Sunday they have established an evidentiary foundation to charge Netanyahu and his wife Sara with accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust.

He argued in a statement that "these recommendations were determined and leaked even before the investigations began".

"I'm sure that in this case the relevant authorities, after examining the issue, will reach the same conclusion: that there was nothing because there is nothing", he said in a statement.

Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing and claims he is the victim of a media witch hunt.

The Bezeq case, known as Case 4000, is the most serious of all those of which Mr Netanyahu has been accused. They accuse the prime minister and Bezeq boss Shaul Elovitch, who they also recommend be charged, as having shared a "bribe-based relationship" which saw Mr Netanyahu and his associates intervene in news coverage on an nearly daily basis.

Police said there was evidence to charge Netanyahu with bribery, fraud, breach of trust and unlawful acceptance.

Two key figures have turned state's witnesses in the case, including former media adviser to the Netanyahu family Nir Hefetz. Netanyahu held the government's communications portfolio until past year and oversaw regulation in the field.

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

They are suspected of interfering in regulatory decisions that favoured Bezeq and its majority shareholder Shaul Elovitch.

Police recommended that Bezeq's former chairman, Shaul Elovitch, who was forced to step down earlier this year, stand trial for giving bribes. Hefetz reportedly gave the police text messages and incriminating recordings indicating a quid pro quo relationship between Netanyahu and Bezeq Group.

"The most serious bribery case yet leaves no room for doubt: a prime minister who is accused of the most serious offense for a public servant in the Israeli rule book can not keep serving one minute longer", said Tamar Zandberg, head of the dovish opposition Meretz party.

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

Talk of early elections has become a staple of Israel's political landscape in recent months, but polls have shown the cascade of allegations against Netanyahu wouldn't cost him a fifth term.

Police are also recommending that charges be brought against Netanyahu's wife, Sara, who has been at the centre of much of the corruption allegations surrounding the longtime Israeli leader.

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

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