Sources in the Israel Police believe there is sufficient evidence to charge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with bribery for accepting hundreds of thousands of shekels’ worth of gifts from wealthy businessmen, Israel Channel 10 News reported on Friday.
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The prime minister and his wife, Sara Netanyahu, are suspected of demanding, and receiving, large amounts of cigars, jewelry and alcoholic beverages over an extended period of time from individuals including the Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, in what has been dubbed Case 1000.
According to Channel 10, prosecutors have not yet decided on an indictment in the case. The Israel TV News Company — the shared news division of Keshet 12 and Reshet 13, the former Channel 2 — reported on Friday that the police and the State Prosecutor’s Office disagree over charges in the case.
On Thursday, Netanyahu was questioned for the fifth time in this case, as well as in Case 2000, which involves recordings of talks between Netanyahu and Arnon Mozes, the publisher of the Yedioth Ahronoth daily tabloid. The prime minister was questioned for four hours, and according to TV news reports detectives plan to question him at least twice more in connection to this affair.
Last week it was reported that Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer was questioned by police on allegations that he asked then-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to expedite a U.S. visa for Milchan, on Netanyahu’s request.
The police are also examining whether Netanyahu tried to advance Milchan’s interests in Israel’s media industry. Haaretz has reported that Netanyahu may have facilitated the sale of Channel 10, in which Milchan owned shares, to businessman Len Blavatnik.
Australian billionaire James Packer is also believed to have given lavish gifts to the Netanyahus. Channel 10 reported that Packer paid the New York hotel bill of their son Yair during a United Nations General Assembly meeting and gave Sara Netanyahu 10 tickets to a concert by singer Mariah Carey, Packer’s partner at the time. The police have not yet questioned Packer on this matter.
Last week two of the prime minister’s closest confidants, lawyers David Shimron and Isaac Molho, were questioned by the police four times over allegations of financial misconduct in Israel’s purchase of submarines from Germany. It’s not yet known whether the police intend to question Netanyahu in this affair, dubbed Case 3000.