Israeli police have recommended indictment of the country’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in two cases – Case 1000 and Case 2000. As per Israeli media reports, the Israeli PM is alleged to have advanced the interests of “wealthy benefactors” in lieu of “lavish gifts” in Case 1000. In the second case, the Israeli PM is alleged to have made an illegal deal for “positive coverage” in Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s second-largest newspaper. For this, Netanyahu allegedly agreed to hurt Yedioth Ahronoth’s rival daily Israel Hayom.
Police have released the details of the kind of favors Netanyahu allegedly received in both cases. In Case 1000, police said Netanyahu received “lavish” gifts from Hollywood biggie Arnon Milchan and Australian businessman James Packer. The gifts were received by Netanyahu allegedly in return of political favors. The gifts included cigars, pink champagne, jewelry and trips. While police have recommended indictment of the PM on charges of “bribery, fraud and breach of trust”, the Netanyahu has said the gifts were “token of friendship”.
According to Haaretz.com, Netanyahu “pushed” for the “so-called Milchan Law”, which provided for tax breaks to Israelis returning to the country after spending time on a foreign soil. It says the tax break was worth over million shekels for Milchan. This was also testified by former Finance Minister in Netanyahu government, Rair Lapid.
“According to suspicions, the Prime Minister worked to advance the extension of the tax waiver for returning citizens over 10 years, a benefit that has a considerable economic value for Mr Milchan,” police said in a statement.
In Case 2000, Netanyahu allegedly entered into a deal with the publisher of Yedioth Ahronoth, Arnon Mozes. As part of the deal, the PM had allegedly agreed to limit the circulation of Israel Hayom in return of “favorable coverage” in Yedioth Ahronoth. Police have recommended indictment of Netanyahu on charges of “bribery, fraud and breach of trust” in Case 2000. Overall, police have claimed that Netanyahu accepted gifts worth $300,000 in 10 years.
The recommendations by police now need to be examined by attorney general Avichai Mandelblit and state prosecutors. The attorney general was once a Netanyahu aide.
While political uncertainty looms large in Israel, the prime minister has refused to quit. He has said the government of Israel is “stable” and there is nothing to be worried about. Netanyahu, who visited India last month, has even criticised the police investigation, saying its report “misleads” and is “contrary to the truth and logic”.
“I can reassure you that the coalition is stable. Neither me nor anyone else has plans for elections. We’re going to continue to work together for the good of Israeli citizens until the end of the term,” Netanyahu said.
Addressing the nation after the release of the police findings, Netanyahu said on Tuesday, “I feel a deep obligation to continue to lead Israel in a way that will ensure our future … Over the years, I have been the subject of at least 15 enquiries and investigations. All of those attempts resulted in nothing, and this time again they will come to nothing.”