Netanyahu Questioned by Police for Fifth Time in Alleged Corruption Probe

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Police investigators arrive at the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem, Nov 9, 2017
Police investigators arrive at the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem, Nov 9, 2017Credit: Olivia Pitusi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was questioned by Israeli police for the fifth time regarding two corruption cases on Thursday. Investigators arrived at the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem on Thursday afternoon, and questioned the prime minister for four hours. This came days after two of his closest affiliates were grilled by investigators in a separate case.

Senior officers of the Lahav 433, the elite special investigations unit arrived at the investigation after significant testimonies were accumulated from the prime minister's recent interrogations involving Cases 1000 and 2000. 

The questioning was expected to revolve around matters involving the so-called "Case 1000," in which Netanyahu is suspected of accepting gifts from wealthy benefactors in the form of cigars, champagne and jewelry – worth an estimated total of hundreds of thousands of shekels – allegedly in return for advancing their interests.

This was his fifth time being questioned in this regard and in regards to the so-called "Case 2000," which involves recordings of talks Netanyahu held with the publisher of Yedioth Ahronoth, a leading newspaper considered critical of him, to obtain favorable coverage in return for reining Israel Hayom, the paper's main rival and Netanyahu's main mouthpiece.

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The investigation is likely to climax with the police confronting Netanyahu with testimony from his former chief of staff Ari Harow. Harow signed an agreement to become state's witness last August, to provide details of the two cases in which Netanyahu is suspected. 

Over the past four days, two of his closest associates have gone into police questioning in regards to the “submarine affair,” or so-called 'Case 3000,' which is by far the most serious scandal surrounding Netanyahu.

A multimillion dollar submarine deal with German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp is the focus of this police investigation, probing ino possible wrongdoing involving Netanyahu's personal lawyer and the local representative of the German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp. The case, called "Case 3000" by police, was based around the two-billion euro deal to purchase three submarines and four patrol boats, intended to protect Israel's offshore natural gas platforms. 

It is not clear, however, whether the police intended to extract evidence from Netanyahu regarding the "submarine affair" during this round of questioning. Unlike the other two cases, Netanyahu has not yet been interrogated as a suspect in Case 3000.

Police were expected to confront Netanyahu with various testimonies taken, including of Arnon Milchan, who was interrogated in London as part of a judicial inquiry a month ago.

Milchan, the Israeli Hollywood producer whose interests Netanyahu is suspected of advancing, acquired a ten-year U.S. visa with the help of then-U.S. ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro at the behest of the prime minister. Milchan testified to police last year that he gave the Netanyahu family an estimated hundreds of thousands of shekel in gifts.

Netanyahu's investigation was also expected to be documented, as is required of any investigation punishable by ten years or more, and for the purposes of supervision by Police Chief Roni Alsheich and Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan.

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