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Israel PM Netanyahu faces corruption charges

  • 13 February 2018

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister"s office in Jerusalem on February 11, 2018.Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Mr Netanyahu is reported to have met investigators several times

Israeli police say that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should be charged over alleged bribery cases.

A police statement said there is enough evidence to indict Mr Netanyahu for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in two separate cases.

Speaking on Israeli television, Mr Netanyahu said the allegations were baseless and that he would continue as prime minister.

The allegations, he said, “will end with nothing”.

What are the allegations?

One case centres on an allegation that Mr Netanyahu asked the publisher of an Israeli newspaper, Yediot Aharonot, for positive coverage in exchange for help in reining in a rival publication.

Police said the editor of Yediot Aharonot, Arnon Mozes, should also face charges.

The second allegation centres on a claim that Mr Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister since 2009, received more than $ 100,000 (£72,000) in gifts from Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan and other supporters.

The Jerusalem Post says the gifts included champagne and cigars, and were given in exchange for help getting Mr Milchan a US visa.

Mr Milchan should face bribery charges, police said.

Haaretz newspaper reports that Mr Netanyahu, after receiving gifts, pushed for the Milchan Law, which ensures Israelis who return to live in Israel from abroad are exempt from paying taxes for 10 years.

Police say Mr Netanyahu is also suspected of fraud and breach of trust in a case involving Australian billionaire James Packer.

Israel’s Channel 10 reported in December that Mr Packer told investigators he gave the prime minister and his wife Sara gifts.

Israeli media say Mr Netanyahu has been questioned by investigators at least seven times.

What happens now?

A final decision on whether Mr Netanyahu should face charges will come down to the attorney general’s office.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said any prime minister who has been charged should not be obliged to resign.

And speaking on Israeli television, Mr Netanyahu said he would continue in his role.

He said he had worked only ever “for the good nation” and accused police of being on a witch hunt against him.

Are these the first allegations against him?

No.

The 68-year-old is in his second stint as prime minister, and has served in the role for a total of 12 years.

He has been subject to a number of allegations in his time in office.

After his first term as prime minister two decades ago, police recommended that he and Sara face criminal charges for keeping official gifts that should have been handed over to the state. The charges were later dropped.

In July 2015, the couple were accused of charging the government for the services of a contractor who did private work for them. The charges were later dropped.

BBC News – World

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