An investigation against Netanyahu’s alleged corruption has entered a more intense phase.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is suspected of crimes involving fraud, breach of trust and bribes in two corruption cases, Israeli police revealed Thursday.
Police have been questioning Netanyahu for months over the cases, but have released few details. A media gag order was issued Thursday night on details of talks that are underway to enlist a state witness.
The document says the cases involving Netanyahu deal with “a suspicion of committing crimes of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.”
Netanyahu’s former chief of staff and onetime close confidant has agreed to testify in two ongoing corruption cases against him, the police said Friday.
The police statement said that Ari Harrow will serve six months of community service and pay a fine of 700,000 shekels (about $193,000) for his involvement in a separate corruption case, apparently a lighter-than-expected sentence in exchange for his testimony.
The US-born Harrow has been under investigation for the past two years for fraud and other crimes regarding the sale of his consulting company while working as chief of staff.
Netanyahu’s office has repeatedly denied wrongdoing over the investigations, portraying the accusations as a witch hunt against him and his family by a hostile media opposed to his political views.
A statement from his office Thursday night said, “We completely reject the unfounded claims against the prime minister.” It said the allegations are part of a campaign to “replace the government” and “there will be nothing, because there was nothing.”
One investigation, Case 1000, centers on allegations that the Netanyahu family received hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of cigars, champagne and other expensive gifts from rich supporters, possibly in exchange for favors from Netanyahu.
Case 2000 involves Netanyahu and Yediot Aharonot owner Noni Moses, who allegedly made a pact with Netanyahu, according to which the prime minister proposed to use his power to weaken Yediot’s main rival, Israel Hayom, by passing a law curbing the latter’s distribution in return for Yediot’s reduction of negative coverage of Netanyahu’s government.
Justice Minister: Netanyahu Need Not Resign
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said that even if Netanyahu is indicted on corruption charges, he is not compelled to resign.
Shaked told Israel’s Channel 2 on Saturday that ministers have to resign in such cases, but not necessarily prime ministers.
Coalition partners will have to discuss the ethical ramifications of such a development, but it was still premature, she added.
By: AP and World Israel News Staff