Israel police recommend indicting Netanyahu over bribery

Israel Police Recommend Indicting Benjamin Netanyahu In Corruption Probe

Israeli police have recommended indicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on bribery charges involving Israel's telecom giant.

Police are also recommending that charges be brought against Netanyahu's wife, Sara, who has been at the centre of much of the corruption allegations surrounding the longtime Israeli leader.

While it is now up to Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit to formally prosecute those involved, the announcement ramps up pressure on Netanyahu, who faces a raft of legal woes.

In a scathing attack on police investigators in a speech on Sunday, Netanyahu called the investigation a "witch hunt" that was "tainted from the start". "And in a law-abiding country police recommendations have no legal weight", he told his Likud party at a Hannukah candle-lighting ceremony.

Authorities claim Mr Netanyahu awarded regulatory favours to the country's leading telecommunications company, Bezeq Telecom Israel, in return for more favourable coverage of him and his wife on its news website, Walla. It alleged that Netanyahu sought to interfere with content of Bezeq's Walla website "in a way that would benefit him".

Police said there was evidence to charge Netanyahu with bribery, fraud, breach of trust and unlawful acceptance.

Police said there was evidence to charge Netanyahu with bribery, fraud, breach of trust and unlawful acceptance.

They are also recommending charges be brought against Mr Elovitch and members of his family.

He argued in a statement that "these recommendations were determined and leaked even before the investigations began".

This is the third such police recommendation against Netanyahu in recent months.

That decision will have a great impact on Netanyahu's future. Mr Netanyahu is in his second stint as prime minister. But at the minimum, a trial would put great pressure on Netanyahu, who has been in office for almost a decade, to step aside.

Elections are now scheduled for November 2019.

Netanyahu has said he wants his coalition to keep going until the end of its term, but politicians close to him say that given the coalition's shaky razor-thin majority, an early election is likely. Netanyahu's coalition now enjoys only the slimmest of parliamentary majorities. She also illegally paid approximately $10,000 for private chefs, prosecutors said. That would force the attorney general "to seriously reconsider his decision", he said.

Two senior advisers have turned state witnesses and have allegedly provided authorities with incriminating evidence. Former journalists at the Walla news site have attested to being pressured to refrain from negative reporting of Netanyahu.

Other opposition figures, including opposition leader Tzipi Livni, quickly joined in the call for Netanyahu to resign.

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