Israel PM hits out at cops in graft case
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.