The Israeli leader has a chance to present his defense in a hearing before a final decision
JERUSALEM —Israel’s attorney general recommended Thursday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted for fraud, bribery and breach of trust, the Israeli leader’s lawyers said, casting uncertainty over his political future just weeks before he faces reelection.
Netanyahu has strongly denied the allegations against him and will have the opportunity to present his defense at a hearing before any final decision by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to issue an indictment. But the recommendation indicates that Israel’s top legal authority believes there is enough evidence to proceed with a trial.
Mandelblit said Netanyahu should be charged with fraud and breach of trust in connection with Case 1000, the prime minister’s lawyers said. The case centers around allegations that he and his wife, Sara, received gifts of cigars and jewelry worth around $280,000 in exchange for political favors. The billionaire benefactors allegedly included Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, whose film credits include “Fight Club” and “Pretty Woman,” and Australian business executive James Packer.
When the Israeli police issued a recommendation last year to indict Netanyahu, they said he was suspected of promoting the extension of a tax exemption for residents returning to Israel after 10 years, which would have benefited Milchan. Netanyahu is also accused of working to help Milchan obtain his visa to the United States by lobbying senior U.S. officials.
Mandelblit also recommended that the prime minister be charged in connection with to Case 2000, which centers on a deal he allegedly sought with Arnon Mozes, publisher of the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper and Ynet news website. Under the deal, Netanyahu was to advance legislation to weaken one of Mozes’s competitors in return for favorable coverage.
In connection with yet another case, called Case 4000, the attorney general recommended that the prime minister should also be indicted . Netanyahu is accused of easing business regulations for Shaul Elovitch, majority shareholder of Bezeq, the country’s largest telecommunications company, in exchange for favorable coverage of him and his wife on the popular news website, Walla! , also owned by Elovitch. Continue: Netanyahu should be indicted on charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust, Israel’s attorney general recommends