Netanyahu Responds to Police Bribery Recommendations: I Will Continue to Lead, All My Life I've Worked for Israel

Police say Netanyahu 'acted against public interest,' received gifts worth 1 million shekels

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem December 17, 2017.
\ POOL/ REUTERS

Israel Police recommended indicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in two corruption cases on Tuesday. In his first reaction, Netanyahu said that all his life he has worked for Israel and vowed to remain as the country's prime minister.

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Netanyahu addressed the public in a live broadcast at 8:45 P.M.

"These recommendations have no weight in a democratic society," Netanayhu said, adding that he will "continue to lead Israel responsibly and faithfully."

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He said that everything he did was for the sake of the country, "not for cigars from friends and not for better media coverage," a reference to the two cases in which he may be indicted. "Nothing will have sway and nothing will sway me, not even the incessant attacks against me," Netanyahu said.

"Great efforts have been taken to open no fewer than 15 investigations and probes to remove me from power. All of them started off as breaking news, some of them with shocking police recommendations," said the prime minister. "Every single one of these attempts, without exception, led to nothing. I know the truth, so I can tell you, this time it will also lead to nothing."

"The authorities will not accept half of the police's recommendations, and they will lead to nothing," he added.

Netanyahu doubted the objectivity of the investigation. "There is a shadow lurking behind the recommendations publicized tonight," he said. "It is impossible to get rid of the impression that they are influenced by the groundless feelings of the investigators who believe that I plotted against them. ... These allegations are completely false and ungrounded."

The two cases are the so-called Case 1000 – in which Netanyahu is suspected of accepting lavish gifts from wealthy benefactors in return for advancing their interests – and Case 2000, which alleges that Netanyahu tried to strike a deal that would have provided him with positive coverage in Israel's largest paid newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, in exchange for hurting its free rival, Israel Hayom.

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Netanyahu has maintained he did nothing wrong, claiming on numerous occassions that "there will be nothing, because there is nothing."

According to the police, after Netanyahu was elected, the volume of gifts he received rose significantly. Together, they are valued at 1 million shekels (around $280,000).

The publisher of Yedioth Ahronoth, Arnon Mozes, will also be charged, as will Arnon Milchan, who allegedly provided Netanyahu with gifts.

What Netanyahu gave Milchan in return for 750,000 shekels in gifts

Regarding Milchan, the police said that in return for the gifts, Netanyahu pushed for the so-called Milchan law, which cuts taxes for Israelis returning to Israel after spending time abroad.

According to the police, Netanyahu acted "against public interests."

In the days leading up to the police's recommendations, Netanyahu had openly questioned the integrity of the police commissioner and other high-ranking officers tasked with the investigations

In an interview broadcast last Wednesday, Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich claimed "powerful people" have been gathering information about the investigators in Netanyahu's cases.

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Netanyahu responded in a late-night Facebook post, calling the claims "ludicrous" and saying the police chief's comments "cast a shadow" over the investigation. In the following days Netanyahu continued to criticize the police, including the head of the anti-fraud unit, Lahav 433.