Netanyahu Questioned at His Residence for Seventh Time Over Corruption Suspicions

Police were expected to confront the prime minister with testimony from Australian billionaire James Packer over allegations that the former accepted expensive gifts from him and others

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at an event at the Knesset, December 12, 2017.
Ammar Awad/REUTERS

Investigators from the national fraud squad questioned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the seventh time at his official residence in Jerusalem on Friday morning. Netanyahu is being questioned “under caution,” meaning he is suspected of committing a crime.

Most of the questioning was expected to focus on the so-called Case 1000 criminal corruption affair in which Netanyahu is suspected of accepting expensive gifts from billionaires. This is expected to be the last session the police conduct with Netanyahu before they wrap up their case, though it is possible they will have to question him one more time to complete the two corruption cases, known as cases 1000 and 2000.

Case 2000 involves allegations that Netanyahu was willing to sell out Israel Hayom to obtain favorable coverage in Yedioth Ahronoth, a newspaper known to be critical of him.

Last month, the police finally managed to take testimony from Australian billionaire James Packer, who talked to Australian investigators in Melbourne at the end of November in connection with the investigation of Netanyahu. The Netanyahu family allegedly received gifts worth upward of $100,000 from a number of wealthy business figures including Packer and Israeli-born Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan.

Packer’s questioning in Australia was conducted in coordination with representatives of Israel’s State Prosecutor’s Office. The police are expected to confront Netanyahu with Packer’s testimony for the first time.

Friday’s session was the first time that the new head of the police’s investigations and intelligence branch, Maj. Gen. Gadi Siso, was in charge of the questioning. Siso has been working with investigators on the case for the past few weeks, but his predecessor, Maj. Gen. Meni Yitzhaki, will also continue to work with the investigators until the police wrap up the case and hand it over to the State Prosecutor’s Office.

The police have completed their investigation in Case 1000, and are making an effort to conclude both cases within the next two weeks, before the end of the year, or by mid-January at the latest.

Netanyahu has spent the past day with his legal team preparing for the latest round of questioning by police.

Last month Netanyahu was questioned by police for about four hours. They confronted him with testimony from Milchan and some of his employees, including that of his personal assistant and driver. 

Netanyahu is suspected, among other things, of allegedly accepting bribes from Milchan in return for advancing his business interests and helping him with his U.S. visa, which was about to expire. Milchan has been living in the United States on a series of 10-year visas, and in 2014 Milchan was having a problem renewing it, and asked Netanyahu to help him with it.