Wednesday, 23 May, 2018

Benjamin Netanyahu: Israeli police recommend charging Prime Minister over alleged bribery

Netanyahu remains defiant in face of corruption allegations Modal Trigger AP
Ellis Copeland | 14 February, 2018, 19:45

I will continue to lead Israel responsibly and faithfully for as long as you, the citizens of Israel, choose me to lead you.

Yisrael Beytenu leadear, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, himself a suspect in numerous corruption probes, said at the same evet that Netanyahu could remain in office until indicted. It's impossible to govern "while you spend most of your time with your lawyers or responding to the press", he said.

If the prime minister is indicted and ousted from office, it could have far-reaching consequences for global affairs.

Mr Netanyahu, who denies wrongdoing, has been questioned several times since the start of 2017.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared he has no plan to go to early elections, as his coalition closed ranks around a leader who police say should stand trial for bribery. "Israel is a state of law, and according to the law, the police do not determine and decide, but only the authorized legal bodies".

"After reading the recommendations report, I can say that it is a biased, extreme document full of holes, like Swiss cheese", Netanyahu said.

The police statement recommended indictments on two separate investigations.

"I am sure that the truth will come to light", Netanyahu said in concluding his remarks.

The announcement - widely seen as a recommendation to indict the premier - will roil Netanayahu's conservative governing coalition and increase calls by critics for him to resign.

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

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Netanyahu has previously accused the media of orchestrating a "witch hunt" to overthrow the most conservative governing coalition in Israel's history.

Among police suspicions are that Netanyahu worked with Milchan, a well-known Hollywood producer, to arrange a USA visa, lessen the billionare's tax burden, and assist with business ventures. Not in a single day, not in a year, not at all, " Hadad said. A prime minister is not meant to be ideal or live an over-modest lifestyle, but he needs to be someone people look at and say: "'this is how one should act'".

The police statement said that Mr Netanyahu, after receiving gifts, pushed for the Milchan Law, which would have ensured that Israelis who return to live in Israel from overseas were exempt from paying taxes for 10 years.

In contrast to Olmert, who eventually stepped down and was convicted and imprisoned, Netanyahu is still relatively popular with the public and enjoys broad political support in his Likud party and among coalition partners - almost all of whom stand to lose power if elections were held today.

Zehava Gal-on, leader of the left-wing Meretz party, said his cabinet ministers must "show Netanyahu the way out".

Both Netanyahu and Mozes have said these were not serious discussions; rather, they each claim they were trying to expose the other's lack of trustworthiness.

As the police recommendations to prosecutors are just that, the next development in the case will come from justice officials - particularly Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit - and due to the procedures that the justice system follows, it could be many months before that development comes.

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said the police statement was a "despicable move" created to "carry out a government coup against the will of the voter".

He said on Wednesday that police had committed "an illegitimate act here to attempt a coup d'etat in Israel".

Police recommended indicting Milchan and the publisher, Arnon Moses, with bribery as well.

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