Netanyahu Questioned by Police for Third Time in Alleged Corruption Probe

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset, January 25, 2017.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset, January 25, 2017.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was questioned by police investigators at his residence in Jerusalem on Friday morning regarding two pending investigations against him.

One case, known as Case 1000, involves allegations that he illegally accepted valuable gifts for himself and his family from business figures, notably Australian billionaire James Packer and Israeli Hollywood film producer Arnon Milchan.

The other, Case 2000, relates to conversations between the prime minister and the publisher of the Yedioth Aharonoth daily, Arnon Mozes, where Netanyahu allegedly offered to pursue legislation benefitting Mozes' news business in exchange for favorable news coverage for the prime minister. Mozes was questioned again on that case by police on Thursday.

Netanyahu lashed out at the media on Thursday in a Facebook post in which he claimed that people from the media as well as politicians are exerting pressure on Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit and law enforcement officials in an attempt to oust his government. 

"The cat's out of the bag," Netanyahu wrote, claiming that media figures and politicians are trying to apply pressure to have him indicted 'at any price.' He also called the effort an "undemocratic attempt" at "government overthrow."

On Wednesday, the prime minister addressed the Knesset's "Question Time" and made comments in a similar vein, speaking of the efforts as "persecution" and a show of hypocrisy. "I have news for you," he said. "I will continue to lead the State of Israel for many more years to come for the citizens of Israel, the State of Israel and the Jewish people."

Police have concluded that the corruption investigations of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have yielded sufficient evidence to confirm that he committed at least some of the crimes of which he is suspected.  

A senior legal source said that some of the suspicions in the graft case were found to be backed up by conclusive evidence. This reinforces assessments that police will recommend bringing charges against Netanyahu.

In internal discussions, members of the national fraud unit tasked with investigating Netanyahu say they are confident about the evidence they have collected, especially with regard to the graft case.

With respect to Case 2000, there is no dispute regarding the evidence but there is not yet consensus regarding the legal significance of the evidence.

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