Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fought back against a police finding that he had accepted approximately USD 300,000 in bribe, saying that no one can force him to step down. “The coalition is stable, and no one, me or anyone else, has plans to go to elections. We will continue to work together with you for the citizens of the State of Israel, until the end of our term,” The New York Times quoted Netanyahu as saying.
“I read the recommendations report. I can say this is a slanted document, extreme, full of holes, like Swiss cheese, and holds no water,” Netanyahu said at a conference of local government officials in Tel Aviv on Wednesday. The Israeli police on Tuesday recommended that Prime Minister Netanyahu be indicted on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.
The police said that there was enough evidence to prosecute him on allegations that he had accepted lavish gifts from wealthy businessmen and also tried to negotiate a corrupt deal with a newspaper publisher, The Telegraph reported. Netanyahu is accused of accepting bribes worth one million shekels.
The first probe against the Prime Minister focused on claims that he and his family illegally accepted extravagant gifts including champagne and cigars from Arnon Milchan, an Israeli Hollywood producer, and James Packer, an Australian millionaire. It is believed that to return the favour, Netanyahu allegedly helped to pass legislation that would benefit Milchan’s businesses and also tried to get him a visa to the United States.
The Prime Minister admitted to taking the above-mentioned gifts but claimed that they were presents between friends and had nothing to do with any political favours. It is also believed that Netanyahu offered a corrupt deal to Arnon Mozes, the publisher of Yedioth Ahronoth, one of Israel’s largest newspapers.
Netanyahu allegedly said that he would restrict the circulation of Israel Hayom, a free sheet newspaper which had eaten into Yedioth Ahronoth’s market share. In return, the Prime Minister allegedly wanted more favourable coverage.
Netanyahu and his allies also tried to discredit the police investigation and cast it as a political witch hunt. The final decision on whether or not to bring charges against Netanyahu lies with Israeli attorney general Avichai Mandelblit.