NE­TANYAHU DE­FI­ANT AMID BRIBERY CLAIMS

This is one of the big­gest chal­lenges in his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer

New Straits Times - - WORLD -

IS­RAEL’S Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu yes­ter­day said his coali­tion govern­ment re­mained sta­ble and would con­tinue to gov­ern de­spite po­lice rec­om­men­da­tions he be in­dicted for bribery.

“I want to re­as­sure you, the coali­tion is sta­ble. No one, not I, nor any­one else, has plans to go to an elec­tion. We will con­tinue to work with you for the good of Is­rael’s cit­i­zens un­til the end of the term,” Ne­tanyahu said at a con­fer­ence here.

His re­marks came the morn­ing af­ter Is­raeli po­lice made pub­lic their rec­om­men­da­tions, pre­sent­ing Ne­tanyahu with one of the big­gest chal­lenges in his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer. It is now up to Is­rael’s at­tor­ney-gen­eral to de­cide whether to file charges, a process that could take months.

Ne­tanyahu de­nied wrong­do­ing in both po­lice crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions that have gone on for more than a year.

One case, known as Case 1000, al­leged the “com­mit­ting of crimes of bribery, fraud and breach of trust by the prime min­is­ter”.

Po­lice named Arnon Milchan, a Hol­ly­wood pro­ducer and Is­raeli cit­i­zen, and Aus­tralian busi­ness­man James Packer, say­ing they gave gifts that in­cluded cham­pagne, cigars and jew­ellery to Ne­tanyahu and his fam­ily. The mer­chan­dise was worth more than one mil­lion shekels (RM1.1 mil­lion), the state­ment said.

Any le­gal pro­ceed­ings would likely fo­cus on whether po­lit­i­cal favours were sought or granted. Ne­tanyahu’s lawyers said the presents were to­kens of friend­ship.

The sec­ond, Case 2000, al­leged “bribery, fraud and breach of trust by the prime min­is­ter” re­lat­ing to deal­ings with Arnon Mozes, the pub­lisher of the big­gest-sell­ing Is­raeli news­pa­per Ye­dioth Ahronoth.

The two men, po­lice said, dis­cussed ways of slow­ing the growth of a ri­val daily news­pa­per, Is­rael Hayom, “through leg­is­la­tion and other means”.

Po­lice said they be­lieved there was suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence to charge Mozes with of­fer­ing a bribe.

Ne­tanyahu was crit­i­cal of the po­lice in his re­marks yes­ter­day, as he had been for months.

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

“I am cer­tain, as I have al­ways been cer­tain, and noth­ing has changed, that the truth will come to light and noth­ing will come of this.”

Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu

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