Israeli police on Sunday urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be charged with a third corruption case that could shake the head of government into a weaker majority in recent weeks.
It is now up to the Attorney General to decide whether or not to indict the Prime Minister and his wife for accepting “bribes”, “fraud” and “breach of trust”. Police also recommend Ms. Netanyahu’s indictment for “obstructing” the investigation.
The couple is believed to have tried to secure favorable coverage from the Walla news site in exchange for government favors that could have brought hundreds of millions of dollars to Bezeq, Israel’s largest telecommunications group, owner of Walla.
Police have already recommended Benjamin Netanyahu’s indictment in two other corruption cases in February.
The head of government immediately rejected Sunday the findings of the police.
“I am sure that in this case the competent authorities, having considered the question, will reach the same conclusion: that there was nothing because there is nothing”, he replied in a statement.
Between 2012 and 2017, the Prime Minister and his entourage “intervened on the content published by the information website ‘Walla’ and sought to influence the appointment of people” in order “to publish articles and photos flattering, removing the content criticizing the Prime Minister and his family, “said the police in his statement summarizing the findings of the investigation.
Call for resignation
At their weekly meeting, the Likud ministers (right), Benjamin Netanyahu’s party, expressed their support for the head of the government. “Thank you very much, but you have to take it much more seriously than I am doing,” the prime minister said on the matter.
In opposition, Labor leader Avi Gabbay called on Benjamin Netanyahu to resign. Left-wing Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg said on Twitter that Israel must hold elections now, with the prime minister being accused of “the most serious offense under Israeli law.”
Fragilized by the resignation of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on November 14 and the withdrawal of his Beiteinou party from the coalition, the government of Benjamin Netanyahu now has only a one-vote majority in parliament ( 61 deputies out of 120).
But Mr. Netanyahu, about to break the longevity record of a prime minister – he has been in office since 2009 – enjoys a strong popularity, and, above all, faces an opposition that does not seem able to beat him if elections were held today.
The deadline is normally November 2019, but for months has floated a perfume of early elections.
Indicted in two other cases
Police have recommended charging the head of the government in two other corruption cases, his wife is also involved in a case of food charges.
Police suspect Benjamin Netanyahu and members of his family, of having received for a million shekels ($ 285,000) luxury cigars, champagne bottles and jewelry from wealthy personalities, in exchange for financial or personal favors.
In another case, the investigators suspect the prime minister of trying to reach an agreement with the owner of Yediot Aharonot for more favorable coverage from the largest Israeli daily newspaper.