Israeli police announced on Sunday that they have recommended the prosecution of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara for fraud and corruption, the third such recommendation against the prime minister this year.
The Attorney General must now decide whether or not to indict the Netanyahus on suspicion of trying to secure favourable coverage from the Walla news website in exchange for government favors that may have yielded hundreds of millions dollars to Bezeq, Israel’s largest telecommunications group, owner of Walla.
Benjamin Netanyahu immediately rejected Sunday the findings of the police.
It seems clear to everyone that the time has been chosen, in a petty manner, to publish these recommendations, these deliberate leaks, this dirty investigation, these false allegations about my wife and me.” Speaking in front of his supporters, Netanyahu insisted that: “This investigation has been rigged, and these recommendations and the timing to reveal them are not surprising.”
“I am sure that in this case the competent authorities, having considered the matter, will reach the same conclusion: that there was nothing because there is nothing,” the Prime Minister said.
In February, the police had recommended the prosecution of Benjamin Netanyahu in two other cases.
In one the prime minister and his family members are suspected of receiving one million shekels ($285,000) worth of luxury cigars, champagne and jewellery from wealthy personalities in exchange for financial or personal favours.
In another case, the investigators suspect Netanyahu of trying to reach an agreement with the owner of Yediot Aharonot for more favourable coverage from the biggest Israeli daily newspaper.
Frustrated by the resignation of his defense minister and a majority that hangs by a thread, Netanyahu would find himself in a difficult situation in the event of an indictment. Members of his government coalition warned they would wait for the Attorney General’s decision before ruling on the charges against him.
The police’s recommendation could prompt Netanyahu to bring forward elections in the hope that a positive outcome will dissuade the authorities from prosecuting the case.