Israeli PM Netanyahu should be charged with bribery - police

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and his wife Sara. File photoImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara are suspected of awarding regulatory favours to a telecom firm

Israeli police have recommended indicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara for alleged fraud and bribery.

They are suspected of awarding regulatory favours to the Bezeq telecom firm in return for positive media coverage of the couple.

Mr Netanyahu rejected the allegations in what is known as Case 4000.

The Israeli attorney-general will now have to decide whether to bring charges in the case.

In February, police recommended indicting Mr Netanyahu in two other corruption investigations.

What are the latest allegations?

On Sunday, the Israeli police and the Israel Securities Authorities said there was sufficient evidence for bribery, fraud and breach-of-trust charges to be brought against Mr Netanyahu and his wife.

They are suspected of interfering in regulatory decisions that favoured Bezeq and its majority shareholder Shaul Elovitch.

In return, the couple are alleged to have been given more positive coverage on Walla! news website, owned by Bezeq.

The police also said there was sufficient evidence to indict Mr Elovitch for giving bribes.

Responding to the latest allegations, Mr Netanyahu tweeted: "These recommendations were determined and leaked even before the investigations began.

"I'm sure that in this case the relevant authorities, after examining the issue, will reach the same conclusion: that there was nothing because there is nothing."

Mr Elovitch has so far made no public comments on the issue.

What about the previous two cases?

One of them centres on an allegation that Mr Netanyahu asked the publisher of an Israeli newspaper, Yediot Aharonot, for positive coverage in exchange for help in reining in a rival publication.

In the second case, Mr Netanyahu is suspected of receiving gifts worth at least a million shekels ($270,000; £210,000) from Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan and other supporters.

The Jerusalem Post reported earlier this year that the gifts included champagne and cigars, and were given in exchange for help getting Mr Milchan a US visa.

Mr Netanyahu has dismissed all the allegations as "baseless".

Israeli media say the 69-year-old prime minister has been questioned by investigators a number of times.

Mr Netanyahu heads a fragile coalition, but he appears confident the allegations will not spur early elections.

The next legislative poll is scheduled for November 2019. Mr Netanyahu is in his second stint as prime minister.