Investigators said to wrap up graft probes into Netanyahu

Israeli TV quotes source in State Prosecutor’s Office saying AG expected to decide during first four months of 2019 whether to indict PM

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting at the his office in Jerusalem on October 14, 2018. (Amir Cohen/Pool/AFP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting at the his office in Jerusalem on October 14, 2018. (Amir Cohen/Pool/AFP)

Police have finished a series of corruption investigations into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli television reported Tuesday, with a decision on whether to indict the premier expected in the next six months.

“The investigations of Netanyahu have all been completed,” Hadashot TV news quoted a senior legal source as saying.

Investigators have been looking into suspected wrongdoing by the prime minister in three separate probes, known as cases 1000, 2000, and 4000, which involve suspicions Netanyahu accepted gifts and favors in exchange for advancing businessmen’s interests.

Police in February recommended Netanyahu be indicted in cases 1000 and 2000.

With the probes now complete, investigators now need to write up a recommendation to the attorney general on whether to indict Netanyahu in Case 4000, as well amended recommendations in the former two cases after they were reopened when a former aide to the premier turned state’s witness.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit at a conference in Jerusalem on February 5, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A source in the State Prosecutor’s Office quoted by the network said investigators would “surprise everyone” by finalizing their recommendations sooner than expected. The source said Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit would likely make a decision in the first four months of 2019.

In Case 1000, Netanyahu is suspected of receiving benefits worth about NIS 1 million ($282,000) from billionaire benefactors in exchange for favors. Case 2000 involves a suspected illicit quid-pro-quo deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes that would have seen the prime minister weaken a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.

Netanyahu is also suspected of advancing regulatory decisions as communications minister and prime minister that benefited Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder in Bezeq, the country’s largest telecommunications firm, in an investigation known as Case 4000. Police suspect that in exchange, he received positive coverage from Elovitch’s Walla news site, in what they say may have constituted bribery.

The prime minister has been questioned 12 times by investigators in the cases, in which he has denied any wrongdoing.

Last week, Mandeblit warned that attempts to discredit him and top prosecutors would increase as a decision on whether to indict Netanyahu in the corruption probes inches closer.

While indicating such a decision was near, Mandelblit would not say when it would be made or when investigators would wrap up their work.

He also rejected allegations of bias among prosecutors leveled by political allies of Netanyahu.

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