Israel PM: Recommendations to indict 'nothing'

Benjamin Netanyahu

Concluding a yearlong graft investigation, the police recommended that Netanyahu face prosecution in two corruption cases: a gifts-for-favors affair known as Case 1000, and a second scandal, dubbed Case 2000, in which Netanyahu is suspected of back-room dealings with Arnon Mozes, publisher of the popular daily Yediot Aharonot, to ensure more favorable coverage.

In a televised address, Mr Netanyahu denied any wrongdoing and said he would "continue to lead Israel responsibly and faithfully".

In a follow-up statement, also posted to Facebook last week, the prime minister criticized the investigation and claimed "a great shadow" had been "imposed tonight on police investigations in the matter of Prime Minister Netanyahu".

Netanyahu, 68, would be the first sitting prime minister to be indicted, but former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, was convicted of breach of trust in 2012 after leaving office in 2009.

"I admire Prime Minister Netanyahu and am happy that I was given the opportunity to be his friend", Mr Packer said in his testimony, according to Israeli media.

"If Netanyahu needs to be indicted, the attorney general must make a decision to bring charges against him, but he needs to be able to make that decision without public pressure based on police recommendations", Fuchs told The Times of Israel ahead of the ruling, adding "the law agrees with me". In exchange, police say Netanyahu sought to advance Milchan's interests in various fields including telecommunications and tax law, and by helping him with his US visa. But it would certainly cripple his ability to govern in what is already a shaky coalition government of hard-liners and liberals.

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Milchan or New Regency Productions, a Hollywood movie studio he founded and chairs, have produced more than 100 films, including recent Oscar best picture winners 12 Years a Slave, Birdman, and The Revenant.

A statement by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that he was discussing with Washington an Israeli legislative proposal to extend sovereignty over Jewish population blocs in Yehudah and Shomron on Monday was followed by a flurry of denials in Yerushalayim and Washington.

"It goes without saying that a relationship in which a public servant or public official receives benefits from a person, while using his power and influence in order to promote the interests of that person, is prohibited by law", the report outlined.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said in August that if Netanyahu were to be indicted on corruption charges, he would not be obligated to resign.

Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said that "Netanyahu's latest statement... confirms USA complicity with Israeli colonial plans", and amounts to "land theft", the AFP reported.

The gifts allegedly included expensive cigars, jewellery and champagne, with a total value of some one million shekels (€229,000, $283,000).

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