Israeli police recommend indicting PM for bribery


"I am certain that the authorized officials, after considering the matters, will reach the same conclusion in this case as well - that there was nothing because there is nothing", Netanyahu further said on Sunday.

The decision whether to indict falls to Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit, who still hasn't ruled on the two other corruption cases in which police have already said Netanyahu should be indicted.

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

The prime minister has argued that he is the victim of a left-wing and media conspiracy to topple his conservative government.

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. It alleged that Netanyahu sought to interfere with content of Bezeq's Walla website "in a way that would benefit him".

Police say the investigation, which included the testimony of 60 witnesses, revealed that Netanyahu and Bezeq boss Shaul Elovitch engaged in a "bribe-based relationship".

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

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Netanyahu last month was almost forced to call elections after a key partner withdrew from his coalition to protest a cease-fire with the Hamas militant group in Gaza.

Mr Netanyahu has long framed this investigation as a witch hunt organised by the media and the accusations against him as personal rather than legal in nature.

The police recommendations are non-binding. The next national election is not due until November 2019. Mr Netanyahu is in his second stint as prime minister.

"The question is what will happen first: Will the attorney-general decide to prosecute or will the Government collapse?" said Reuven Hazan, a professor of political science at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The Bezeq case, known as Case 4000, is the most serious of all those of which Netanyahu has been accused. "If there is an election first and Netanyahu wins with everyone knowing about his legal issues, then he can say that despite knowledge of the legal battles, the people still want him".

Two of his top confidants have turned state witnesses and are believed to have provided police with incriminating evidence.

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