Tel Aviv, Israel— Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been recommended for indictment by Israeli police over allegations he engaged in bribery, fraud and “acting against public interest.”
Following the announcement, Netanyahu made a televised statement in which he denied the allegations, calling the case against him “baseless,” and vowing to continue to lead Israel.
The recommendation of charges follows a 14-month long investigation into allegations that Netanyahu traded political favors for costly gifts from wealthy businessmen, and that he sought to complete a deal with a popular newspaper to obtain positive coverage in exchange for using his position to damage a rival newspaper.
According to Haaretz:
The two cases are the so-called Case 1000 – in which Netanyahu is suspected of accepting lavish gifts from wealthy benefactors in return for advancing their interests – and Case 2000, which alleges that Netanyahu tried to strike a deal that would have provided him with positive coverage in Israel’s second largest newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, in exchange for hurting its free rival, Israel Hayom.
A report by the Times of Israel last week noted “senior police officials are in unanimous agreement on the matter, and that a ‘final’ discussion on the investigation had now been held.”
Reuters noted Netanyahu has been questioned numerous times since early 2017. Police now believe they have enough evidence to bring criminal charges. Consequently, the indictment recommendation will now go to the Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who must decide whether to proceed with an indictment.
In fact, The Times reports that Alsheich also claimed that “powerful figures” operating on behalf of Netanyahu hired private investigators to collect information about police investigators working the Netanyahu cases, in an attempt to smear them once the recommendations became public.
Last Wednesday, in anticipation of the recommendation to indict, Netanyahu posted a video on Facebook proclaiming his innocence.
“There will be recommendations, there will also be signs saying ‘Bibi is guilty until proven otherwise,’ and there will be improper pressure, too. But I’m sure that at the end of the day the legal authorities will arrive at one conclusion, at the simple truth: there is nothing.”
Even if Netanyahu is eventually indicted, under current Israeli law, he could not be forced to resign.