Benjamin Netanyahu (Credit: AP/Ronen Zvulun)
In what may be a major disruption in Israeli politics, Israeli police have recommend that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be charged with bribery and fraud following a yearlong graft investigation, according to multiple reports.
CNN reports that the police announced they have found evidence of Netanyahu “accepting bribes, fraud, and breach of trust.”
Among the allegations: Netanyahu allegedly received expensive gifts from various businessmen, and allegedly negotiated for favorable coverage from newspaper Yediot Aharonot in exchange for his support of a bill that would decrease circulation for one of the publisher’s competitors.
While it’s unclear if Netanyahu will actually face indictment charges in court, the Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit will examine evidence as the next step in due process, according to the Jerusalem Post.
The Jerusalem Post also reports that Netanyahu isn’t required to resign just yet because, as they write, “the law says that only after a peremptory Supreme Court verdict (meaning after an appeal was submitted and rejected), the prime minister must resign from office.”
Netanyahu has consistently defended himself throughout the corruption probe, claiming “it is not illegal to accept gifts from friends.”
Indeed on Feb. 7, Netanyahu penned a Facebook post regarding the allegations, lashing out against the police before their recommendation was expected to be made.
“Any decent person would ask how those who say such surreal things about the Prime Minister can question him objectively, and recommend his case without bias?” he said on Facebook, writing in Hebrew. “A great shadow is cast over police investigations tonight.”
It appears as if the Israeli police don’t agree — perhaps a consequence of the continuous evidence that stacked up against him. Recall, in January, reports surfaced that Netanyahu’s son, Yair Netanyahu, was recorded boasting to Ori Maimon, the son of Israeli tycoon Kobi Maimon, about how Netanyahu’s father’s policies had directly profited the Maimon businesses, Haaretz reported. The Netanyahu family released a statement about the recording and denied any connection between the prime minister and Kobi Maimon.
In December, 20,000 protesters gathered in Tel Aviv to protest Netanyahu and his alleged corrupt wrongdoings.