Israeli police on Tuesday recommended indicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in two corruption investigations, a move that could lead to the first indictments after months of corruption investigations focusing on the prime minister and his family.
Israeli police said in a statement they had “sufficient evidence” against the prime minister in both cases “for the offense of accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust.”
Israeli police alleged Netanyahu received at least 1 million shekels, around $ 283,000, in lavish gifts and bribes.
Case 1,000 alleges that Netanyahu accepted gifts from wealthy patrons in return for advancing their interests. In so-called Case 2,000, Netanyahu is accused of striking a deal with Israel‘s second largest newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, to provide him with positive coverage in return for damaging the reputation of Israel Hayom, a free newspaper in Israel.
Case 1,000 names two wealthy businessmen, an Israeli Hollywood producer and an Australian businessman. In regards to the producer, the police said they had evidence for accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust. With respect to the businessman, the police only named fraud and breach of trust.
The police also added it had sufficient evidence of bribery to charge the producer, too.
Netanyahu blasted the development in a televised address this evening.
“I have not known a day in office without vicious allegations against me and my family,” he said. “Fifteen investigations have been launched against me. I know the truth. This time as well, it will end in nothing.”
Netanyahu indicated he was committed to remaining prime minister.
“Nothing will divert me from my commitment to the good of the nation,” he said. “I feel a deep commitment to continue to lead this people.”
Last week, the embattled prime minister took to Facebook to criticize the police, calling the claims “ludicrous.” He also attacked the credibility of the investigation after Israel Police Chief Roni Alshiech insinuated Netanyahu may have hired private investigators to follow those involved in the investigation.
He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, saying more than once “there will be nothing, because there is nothing.”
Tuesday’s recommendations are just that, recommendations, and while they are damaging politically and will certainly fuel calls for the prime minister to step down, the real decision to charge the prime minister lies with Israel’s attorney general. Only a conviction with the charge of moral turpitude would legally force Netanayahu to step down.
By making the recommendations, though, the police are signaling they believe there is enough evidence to charge Netanyahu.
The police’s reported recommendations would now go to Attorney General Avihai Mendelblit, who will decide whether to file charges. This process could take months.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.