Is­rael PM hits out at cops in graft case

The Weekend Australian - - WORLD - AFP

JERUSALEM: Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Netanyahu has lashed out at po­lice in a rare at­tack as de­tec­tives are re­port­edly on the verge of rec­om­mend­ing his in­dict­ment for ac­cept­ing bribes.

Pres­sure has built on Mr Netanyahu as po­lice in­ves­ti­gat­ing him in a long-run­ning probe are re­port­edly pre­par­ing to sub­mit their rec­om­men­da­tions to the At­tor­ney-Gen­eral next week.

Is­raeli me­dia re­ports po­lice are ex­pected to rec­om­mend his in­dict­ment for bribery, fraud and breach of pub­lic trust.

At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Avichai Men­del­blit is ex­pected to take weeks or months to de­cide how to pro­ceed af­ter re­ceiv­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions.

This week, Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Roni Al­she­ich said in a TV in­ter­view that de­tec­tives prob­ing Mr Netanyahu had been tar­geted by pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tors to dig up dirt on them.

Mr Netanyahu posted a re­sponse on Face­book on Thurs­day, lash­ing out at the com­mis­sioner and call­ing sug­ges­tions he sent pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tors on such a mis­sion “ridicu­lous”.

“It is shock­ing to dis­cover that the com­mis­sioner has re­peated the mis­taken and ridicu­lous sug­ges­tion that … Netanyahu sent pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tors af­ter the po­lice who are in­ves­ti­gat­ing him,” the post said.

He also re­ferred to claims that sex­ual ha­rass­ment al­le­ga­tions against the head of the unit in­ves­ti­gat­ing Mr Netanyahu were an at­tempt to smear him be­cause of the graft probe.

“Any hon­est per­son would ask him­self how peo­ple who say such delu­sional things about the Prime Min­is­ter can ob­jec­tively in­ves­ti­gate him and hon­estly give un­bi­ased rec­om­men­da­tions,” the post said. “A large shadow was cast tonight over the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions and their rec­om­men­da­tions re­lated to Prime Min­is­ter Netanyahu.”

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion has raised the pos­si­bil­ity Mr Netanyahu, Prime Min­is­ter for a to­tal of nearly 12 years, will be forced to re­sign. Po­lice are in­ves­ti­gat­ing Mr Netanyahu over sus­pi­cions that he re­ceived ex­pen­sive gifts, in­clud­ing cigars, from wealthy sup­port­ers such as Hol­ly­wood pro­ducer Arnon Milchan and gam­ing mogul James Packer.

His wife al­legedly re­ceived bot­tles of pink cham­pagne.

The gifts were re­port­edly worth tens of thou­sands of dol­lars. They are also prob­ing al­le­ga­tions he sought a se­cret deal for favourable cov­er­age with the pub­lisher of top-selling news­pa­per Ye­diot Aharonot.

Mr Netanyahu, 68, has been ques­tioned seven times by po­lice over the al­le­ga­tions. He has re­peat­edly de­nied any wrong­do­ing and says he is be­ing tar­geted by po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents.

He said he was “con­fi­dent in the fact that … the le­gal author­i­ties will ar­rive at the only con­clu­sion pos­si­ble, the sim­ple truth: There is noth­ing”.

An in­dict­ment alone would not legally oblige Mr Netanyahu to re­sign, though he would likely face mount­ing pres­sure to do so. He would be legally forced to re­sign if con­victed and all ap­peals had been ex­hausted.

Par­lia­ment could also en­act a pro­ce­dure against him be­fore his case is ex­hausted if he is found to be guilty of moral turpi­tude.

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