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Netanyahu decries ‘slander’ as police recommend bribery indictment

Prime minister denies wrongdoing, says police opened 'unfounded' investigations into him in effort to 'topple him from power'

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacts to the Israel's Police recommendation he be indicted for bribery in a pair of criminal investigations on February 13, 2018. (Screen capture: Facebook)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacts to the Israel's Police recommendation he be indicted for bribery in a pair of criminal investigations on February 13, 2018. (Screen capture: Facebook)
  • Publisher and owner of  Yedioth Aharonoth newspaper Arnon "Noni" Mozes arrives for questioning at the Lahav 433 investigation unit in Lod on January 17, 2017. (Roy Alima/Flash90)
    Publisher and owner of Yedioth Aharonoth newspaper Arnon "Noni" Mozes arrives for questioning at the Lahav 433 investigation unit in Lod on January 17, 2017. (Roy Alima/Flash90)
  • Kavous Seyed Emami, a prominent Iranian-Canadian environmentalist, gives a lecture in Iran in November 2017. (Screen capture: YouTube)
    Kavous Seyed Emami, a prominent Iranian-Canadian environmentalist, gives a lecture in Iran in November 2017. (Screen capture: YouTube)
  • Secretary General of Shitte Iraqi Al-Nujabaa movement Akram al-Kaabi poses for a picture by  the tombs of slain Hezbollah military leaders Imad Moghnieh (R) and Moustapha Badreddine (L) in Beirut's southern suburb on February 13, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / ANWAR AMRO)
    Secretary General of Shitte Iraqi Al-Nujabaa movement Akram al-Kaabi poses for a picture by the tombs of slain Hezbollah military leaders Imad Moghnieh (R) and Moustapha Badreddine (L) in Beirut's southern suburb on February 13, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / ANWAR AMRO)
  • Seventeen-year-old Palestinian Ahed Tamimi, right, arrives for the beginning of her trial in the Israeli military court at Ofer military prison in the West Bank village of Betunia, February 13, 2018. (Thomas Coex/AFP)
    Seventeen-year-old Palestinian Ahed Tamimi, right, arrives for the beginning of her trial in the Israeli military court at Ofer military prison in the West Bank village of Betunia, February 13, 2018. (Thomas Coex/AFP)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.

Syria warns Israel ‘more surprises’ in store if it attacks again

The Syrian government is warning Israel of “more surprises” if it launches any more attacks in the country, in the wake of IDF airstrikes airstrikes against regime and Iranian targets in the Syria after an Iranian drone infiltrated Israeli airspace over the weekend.

“Have full confidence the aggressor will be greatly surprised because it thought this war – this war of attrition Syria has been exposed to for years – had made it incapable of confronting attacks,” assistant foreign minister Ayman Sussan says at a Damascus press conference according to Reuters.

“God willing they will see more surprises whenever they try to attack Syria,” he adds.

Earlier today, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman broke his silence on the weekend’s aerial clashes, saying Israel will “respond to any provocation” and will “not accept any limitations” from Russia on its goal of protecting Israeli citizens.

“We will respond to any provocation and defend our crucial security interests,” he said at Kiryat Shmona city hall, during a tour of defense contractors in the area.

“It is not the time to bark, it is the time to bite,” he said. “And we bite hard.”

Palestinian arrested outside West Bank military court with pipe bomb

For the second time this month, a Palestinian man is arrested outside a military court in the northern West Bank armed with a pipe bomb, according to a military police statement.

Security forces cordoned off the entrance to the Samaria Military Court, and bomb disposal experts defused the shrapnel-filled explosive device.

The man is detained for questioning and the court has since reopened.

A similar incident at the Samaria Military Court last week saw a Palestinian man arrested trying to enter the court armed with a pipe bomb.

London’s City airport open after World War II-era bomb removed

London’s City Airport will open as usual after experts remove an unexploded World War II-era bomb from the nearby River Thames.

Flights in and out the airport were canceled yesterday after the 500-kilogram (1,100-pound) ordnance was found at King George V Dock in east London.

The Metropolitan Police service cleared an area within 700 feet (215 meters) of the bomb, including several residential streets, as officers worked with specialists from the Royal Navy to remove the device.

Robert Sinclair, the airport’s chief executive, says the evacuation zone is now lifted and the airport will operate as normal.

London City, the smallest of London’s international airports, is located in east London’s docklands, an area that was heavily bombed by Nazi Germany during World War II.

— AP

Russia accuses US trying to control east Syria

Russia’s foreign minister is accusing the United States of trying to maintain control over eastern Syria.

Sergey Lavrov says the “Americans have taken dangerous unilateral steps.” He adds that “those steps look increasingly as part of efforts to create a quasi-state on a large part of Syrian territory — from the eastern bank of the Euphrates River all the way to the border with Iraq.”

He says the US moves are eroding Syria’s territorial integrity by sponsoring the creation of power structures independent from Damascus, noting that Moscow has raised those concerns in contacts with the US.

US-backed Kurdish-led forces have been competing for control of the oil-rich eastern province of Deir el-Zour with Russian-backed Syrian troops that are reinforced by Iranian-supported militias.

— AP

South Africa’s ruling party says president must leave office

South Africa’s ruling party says it expects President Jacob Zuma to respond tomorrow to its declaration that he leave office after rising public anger over multiple scandals.

Ace Magashule, secretary-general of the African National Congress, says the party’s national executive committee has decided to “recall” Zuma.

If Zuma refuses his party’s instruction, the matter could go to parliament for a vote on a motion of no confidence.

Magashule says “it’s obvious” that the party wants Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to succeed Zuma.

— AP

Rocks thrown at Jerusalem light rail near Shuafat

Unidentified assailants throw rocks at the Jerusalem light rail, near the Shuafat refugee camp in the eastern part of the city.

There are no casualties, but several windows are damaged.

Police are at the scene looking for the perpetrators.

Condition of IDF soldier injured in Jenin yesterday improves

The condition of one of the soldiers injured yesterday in a mob attack after accidentally entering the Palestinian city of Jenin has improved, the hospital says.

The unidentified soldier is described as being in good condition.

She told Hadashot news that she is “aware that Palestinian police saved our lives.”

Yesterday, group of Palestinians attacked her and a male colleague after they mistakenly drove an army vehicle into Jenin.

The IDF said the Palestinians surrounded their vehicle, threw rocks at the soldiers and stole a gun.

It said the soldiers had entered Jenin accidentally, probably due to a GPS mistake.

The vehicle was extracted from the city with the cooperation of Palestinian security forces, which are seen in a video circulating online alongside the silver truck attempting to manage the situation.

Police said finalizing recommendation on Netanyahu indictment

Top Police officials are reportedly set to submit their recommendation on whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should be indicted for bribe-taking by tomorrow, Hadashot news reports.

According to the report, police are finalizing the statement regarding the indictment and it will be publicly announced in the coming day.

Russia: Plane crash caused by pilots’ error on speed data

Investigators say the crash of a Russian passenger plane that killed all 71 people on board may have been caused by the pilots’ failure to activate heating for pressure measurement equipment, resulting in flawed speed data.

The Interstate Aviation Committee said Tuesday, after studying the plane’s flight data recorder, that Sunday’s crash occurred after the pilots saw varying data on the plane’s two air speed indicators.

The flawed indication came because the pilots failed to turn on the heating unit for the plane’s pressure measurement equipment prior to takeoff.

The pilots put the An-148 on autopilot after taking off from Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport but took manual controls back when they saw clashing speed data.

The plane plummeted into a snowy field six minutes after takeoff, killing all 65 passengers and six crew.

— AP

Germany says Iraq soon safe for refugees’ return

Germany’s development minister is heading to a conference on Iraq reconstruction in Kuwait with the message that the country is growing safe enough that refugees should start to consider moving home from Europe.

Gerd Mueller says in a statement that with recent victories over the Islamic State extremist group, Germany is committed to help rebuild destroyed villages and cities in order to create the “conditions for the Iraqi refugees in Germany to return to their homeland.”

He says “the security situation is already allowing the return of internally displaced persons.”

Mueller says he will meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to discuss the “possibility of closer cooperation for the return of refugees from Germany” and Berlin’s “expectations.”

He says the impetus for reconstruction needs to come from the Iraqi government.

— AP

Over 50 Palestinians died in 2017 awaiting Israeli medical permits, WHO says

Some 54 Palestinians died waiting for Israeli visas to travel for medical treatment last year, with only around half of all applications granted, new World Health Organization figures show.

The WHO says it did not have a directly comparable figure for 2016, but Al Mezan Center for Human Rights says it had recorded only a several deaths per annum in previous years.

Gazans require Israeli permits to leave the enclave and travel to Jerusalem or the West Bank for treatment which the Palestinian Authority, the internationally recognized Palestinian government, pays for.

Israel says rigorous checks are necessary for security reasons for those coming from the Palestinian enclave ruled by the Hamas terrorist group.

— AFP

Netanyahu meeting with lawyers ahead of indictment recommendation

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting with his attorneys as police are set to publish their recommendations on whether to indict him in two corruption investigations, the Ynet news site reports.

Earlier, it was reported that top police officials will publish their recommendations either today or tomorrow.

Israel bars Arab MK from visiting Palestinian teen who slapped soldiers

The Israel Prisons Service has denied a request by Joint (Arab) List MK Yousef Jabarin to visit the Palestinian teen on trial for attacking IDF soldiers last month.

The IPS gave no reason for rejecting the request. Jabarin says he will appeal the decision to the High Court of Justice.

Earlier this afternoon, 17-year-old Ahed Tamimi’s assault trial began behind closed doors at the Ofer military court.

Tamimi, who is being tried as a minor, is being charged with 12 assault-related counts and could face a lengthy prison term if convicted.

Egypt arrests aide to barred presidential challenger

Egyptian police arrest former anti-corruption chief Hisham Geneina after he suggested that a presidential hopeful he campaigned for possessed damning material against state officials, his lawyer says.

Geneina was an aide to Sami Anan, a former military chief of staff detained after the army accused him of illegally announcing his intention to stand in the March election against President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

He was the latest candidate to be sidelined after announcing his intention to run against Sisi, a former army commander who came to power in an election after ousting his Islamist predecessor.

In an interview with HuffPost Arabi published late last night, Geneina said the documents, held at a “secure” place abroad, could be released if any harm came to Anan.

— AFP

Suspicious package being checked at Britain’s parliament

The House of Commons says police are currently investigating an incident at Britain’s parliament in London.

Authorities referred all questions to the Metropolitan Police, which did not have any immediate comment.

Britain’s Press Association quoted an unnamed police office at Parliament describing the incident as being related to a suspicious package and saying that that specialist officers are examining it.

The building is not in a lockdown.

— AP

Tunisian legislator rips Israeli flag to protest formal ties

A Tunisian legislator rips up an Israeli flag during a parliament session to push his demands for a law criminalizing relations with Israel.

A left-wing opposition coalition proposed a bill making it a crime to “normalize” relations with Israel, but the debate has been indefinitely delayed because parliament officials did not see at as a priority. Tunisia’s president has played down the proposed law.

Opposition lawmaker Ammar Amroussia tore the flag this afternoon to protest the delay, in images shown on national television.

Moderate Islamist party Ennahdha, part of the governing coalition, warned such a law could hurt Tunisia’s relations with western nations and international organizations.

Tunisia, like most Arab countries, does not have diplomatic relations with Israel. Tunisia was long seen as a model of tolerance in the region but has faced growing Islamic extremism.

— AP

Judge rejects new Assange bid to cancel UK arrest warrant

A British judge rejects a second attempt by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to overturn a warrant that means he would be arrested if he stepped outside his refuge in the Ecuadoran embassy.

Judge Emma Arbuthnot rejected his lawyers’ argument that it was no longer in the public interest to uphold the warrant issued in 2012, when he broke his bail conditions during a battle against extradition to Sweden.

— AFP

Iraqi militia vows to back Hezbollah in war with Israel

The head of the powerful Iraqi militia Harakat al-Nujaba pledges to stand alongside its Lebanese ally Hezbollah if a new war breaks out with Israel.

Harakat al-Nujaba and Hezbollah have fought side-by-side to bolster Syrian government troops since 2013, most prominently against the Islamic State group in eastern Syria.

The movement’s secretary general Akram al-Kaabi this afternoon visited the tomb of top Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh to commemorate the 10 years since his death.

“We in the Iraqi resistance stand with Hezbollah, and we will stand with Hezbollah in any Israeli attack or action against it,” Kaabi says.

He pledges to fight “with Hezbollah in a single row, on a single front, just as we stood with them on a single front in Iraq or Syria.”

Kaabi speaks in Beirut’s southern suburbs, where Hezbollah has a strong support base.

Both Harakat al-Nujaba and Hezbollah are backed by Iran. They fought alongside Syrian government troops and other allied militia to oust IS from key cities in eastern Syria last year, including Albu Kamal.

— AFP

Austria’s far-right Freedom Party tries to clean up pro-Nazi image

The far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) announces a bid to clean up its pro-Nazi image by appointing a committee of historians to look into its history.

The move comes two months after the party, launched by former Nazis, joined the government and follows a series of scrapes involving its members.

In late January a regional official caught up in a scandal over a 1997 student fraternity songbook with lyrics glorifying Nazis was forced to resign.

“There’s been a lot of criticism of the FPOe, much of it unjustified, some, we have to say, justified,” parliamentary group leader Walter Rosenkranz tells a press conference.

“We face the latent criticism that within the FPOe Nazi and neo-Nazi ideas are tolerated.

“No, they are not tolerated and those who think they can impose such ideas on us have nothing to do in the party,” Rosenkranz says.

— AFP

Police say publishing evidence, indictment recommendations standard procedure

A police source with knowledge of the investigations into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells The Times of Israel that “if and when” police present indictment recommendations to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit “a short and concise statement will be released to the press informing them of the conclusions based on the evidence collected.”

The source said that publishing a press release is “the practice with all investigations of public figures.”

Recent weeks have seen a series of efforts by Likud lawmakers and supporters to block police from publishing indictment recommendations following two year-long corruption investigations into Netanyahu, but the Supreme Court ruled yesterday that police have the right to do so.

The move is reported to be planned for later today or tomorrow.

— Raoul Wootliff

Woman wanted in Australia for sex crimes remanded in Israel

An Australian woman accused of sex crimes against children in her home country appeared before an Israeli judge this afternoon who ordered her to remain in custody a day after her arrest.

Australia wants the 54-year-old extradited. She is wanted there for sexually abusing children while she was a teacher at a local school.

Israel launched an undercover investigation at the request of Interpol, and police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the woman was arrested yesterday on suspicion of obstructing court proceedings by attempting to hide evidence.

An Israeli court had previously stopped extradition proceedings against Leifer after determining she was not fit to stand trial. But police say they have indications she was pretending to be suffering from a mental illness to avoid extradition and a new extradition order would be handed down.

“Based on new evidence that is being found, both by the Israeli police as well as social services, we believe that she can stand trial and all of the documents that she had in fact presented over the last few years were fake documents and the psychological analysis that were given were incorrect and inaccurate, ” Rosenfeld says.

— AP

Palestinians held without trial to boycott Israeli courts

Palestinians held without trial under a controversial Israeli policy are to begin a boycott of the country’s military courts, the head of prisoners’ affairs for the Palestinian Authority says.

“Prisoners held on administrative detention in Zionist jails decided to boycott Israeli courts in a final and unprecedented manner… to protest this unjust policy,” Issa Qaraqe tells a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Israel currently holds around 500 Palestinians under its administrative detention policy, which allows imprisonment without trial for six-month periods, renewable indefinitely.

— AFP

Three social workers fired for having sex with inmates

Three social workers employed at the Nitzan and Hermon prisons are suspended from their jobs for engaging in sexual relationships with inmates.

The Israel Prisons Service uncovered evidence of the illicit relationships in a recent internal investigation.

The findings did not uncover evidence the social workers give the inmates any contraband material.

The employees confessed to the relationships and were suspended immediately. They are expected to be fired at a later date.

Egypt orders ban on SNL Arabia over ‘sexual expressions’

An Egyptian official says authorities have ordered a ban on airing the Arabic version of the hit U.S. satirical show Saturday Night Live for allegedly using “sexual expressions.”

Ahmed Salim of the Supreme Media regulations Council told The Associated Press on Tuesday that an investigation of the show’s content showed that SNL Arabia has consistently used inappropriate “sexual phrases and insinuations,” and that the show’s entire content “violates ethical and professional criteria.”

SNL Arabia was first aired in Egypt two years ago. It follows an identical format to its U.S. namesake, is produced by the United Arab Emirates’ pay-tv network OSN, and has been aired most recently by Egypt’s ON ENT. The station’s chief, Mustafa el-Saqa, told the AP they have stopped airing the show’s promos since the ban was announced.

— AP

Likud MK calls to lift boycott on Austrian foreign minister

Likud MK Yehuda Glick calls the boycott of Austria’s foreign minister “absurd,” after meeting with the Austrian vice chancellor and head of a far-right party founded by former Nazis.

Glick speaks after a meeting with Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl during a visit to Vienna.

He says he also met Freedom Party of Austria (FPOe) chief Heinz-Christian Strache earlier today, despite objections from the local Jewish community.

The Freedom Party’s entry into government in December prompted Israel to say it would not have direct contact with FPOe ministers, including Kneissl who was nominated by the party even though she is not herself a member.

Glick says the boycott had led to the “absurd situation” where the Austrian ambassador in Israel was able to freely meet ministers there while the foreign minister was boycotted.

“Many of the opinions about Mrs Kneissl herself and about the Freedom Party are prejudiced,” Glick says, calling Kneissl “a true friend of Israel”.

“I will do every effort I can to try to convince the Israeli foreign ministry of the importance of strengthening the relationship with all the parties in Austria,” he says, while emphasizing that he was not in Austria as an official representative of the Israeli government and did not want to meddle in Austrian politics.

— AFP

Israelis who ran international organ trafficking ring sentenced to jail

The Beersheba District Court sentences two men convicted of organ trafficking to four and five years in prison for their role in an international trafficking ring.

Dr. Michael Ziss is sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay NIS 300,000 ($85,00) in damages, while Shlomi Biton is sentenced to four years and NIS 60,000 ($17,000).

Ziss and Biton were convicted last year of running an trafficking ring in Israel and Turkey between 2012-2014.

Both were sentenced and convicted as part of a plea bargain.

White powder in package sent to British Parliament not harmful

London police say a white powder found inside a suspicious package sent to Parliament is not harmful.

The determination was made after the powder was investigated by specialists.

Parliament was not evacuated or placed in a lockdown after the suspicious package was discovered Tuesday morning but the office that received it has been closed. British authorities didn’t identify that office.

Police counterterrorism detectives are investigating the incident.

— AP

Dutch FM resigns after lying about Putin meeting

New Dutch Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra resigns after admitting he had lied about his presence at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“I see no other option today than to hand in my resignation to his majesty the King,” a tearful Zijlstra tells MPs in a hastily-called session of parliament.

Zijlstra had only been in post for four months, and the dramatic events came just hours before he was due to leave on an official trip to Moscow to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

“This is by far the biggest mistake I have made in my career,” he admits to Dutch politicians in the lower house of parliament, watched by Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

He had been due to meet with Lavrov tomorrow to discuss, among other things, the 2014 downing of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 by a missile fired from territory held by pro-Russian rebels over Ukraine.

— AFP

Netanyahu indictment recommendation expected to be released during Knesset budget debate

Police’s recommendation whether to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on corruption charges is expected to be published as the Knesset debates the first reading of the 2019 budget.

Reports in Hebrew-language media say police are set to release their recommendations this evening.

Egypt forces have killed 38 jihadists in major Sinai operation

Egypt’s military says it has killed 38 militants and arrested more than 500 jihadists and suspects days after launching a major operation against an Islamic State group affiliate in Sinai.

The military says it had killed 10 “extremely dangerous” extremists, in addition to 28 jihadists it had previously announced as having been killed.

A statement adds that 400 “criminal elements and suspects” had been arrested, having previously announced the arrest of 126 people.

The dead jihadists had been “hiding inside a house in the vicinity of El-Arish city (North Sinai province’s capital) following a shoot-out,” spokesman Colonel Tamer al-Rifai says in the statement.

— AFP

Iran claims dead environmentalist was part of CIA, Mossad spy network

Tehran’s chief prosecutor accuses a renowned Iranian-Canadian environmentalist who died in prison of being part of an espionage network set up by Mossad and the CIA.

Kavous Seyed Emami, 63, a renowned professor and founder of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, was buried on this afternoon in the village of Ammami around 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Tehran.

Officials say he committed suicide in his prison cell a fortnight after being arrested along with seven members of his NGO.

Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said the NGO was set up “about a decade ago” as a cover to collect “classified information in defense and missile fields.”

“Defendants in the case, under the guidance of the CIA and Mossad intelligence officers, have pursued a triple mission focused on the environment, infiltrating the scientific community, and collecting information from the country’s sensitive and vital centers, including missile bases,” he said, according to the judiciary-linked Mizanonline news agency.

He said Emami was one of the main contacts for US agents and an intelligence officer had stayed at his home.

“Members of this network installed cameras in strategic areas under cover of monitoring the environment, while in fact monitoring the country’s missile activities,” Dolatabadi said.

One of the NGO’s key projects was monitoring the endangered Asian cheetah, which meant they operated across large swathes of Semnan province, which is home to military sites and missile-testing grounds.

— AFP

Turkey rejects Israel’s claim of military help for Hamas

Turkey blasts as “incompatible with reality” accusations by Israel it had helped the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas to gain in military strength, following the arrest and deportation of a Turkish citizen.

According to Israeli authorities, Turkish national Cemil Tekeli was arrested in January on suspicion of aiding Hamas through business platforms that launder funds, and later deported.

The Shin Bet intelligence agency says the investigation into Tekeli had shown that Turkey contributes to the military strengthening of Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.

But the Turkish foreign ministry says it rejected the allegations, describing the claim as “incompatible with reality and lacking in seriousness.”

Alluding to the Israeli investigation into Tekeli, it says that Israel made the claims based on “statements obtained from our detained citizen under ambiguous circumstances.”

It adds: “It is out of the question for Turkey to permit an activity on its soil that can jeopardise the security of another country.”

Shin Bet says that Hamas had laundered millions of dollars through Turkey.

— AFP

Police, attorney general formulating announcement on Netanyahu indictment

Law enforcement officials along with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit are formulating the police recommendation whether to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on corruption-related charges, Hadashot news reports.

The announcement will be published at 8:45 p.m. this evening.

Hungary unveils tougher proposed ‘Stop Soros’ laws

The Hungarian government unveils a tougher version of its package of planned laws targeting NGOs funded by the American Jewish billionaire George Soros.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government accuses Soros of encouraging illegal immigration into Europe.

As in the original version of the law drafted last month, a tax of 25 percent would be levied on foreign funding given to organizations considered to be “supporting” illegal immigration.

The new draft also retains provisions banning entry to Hungary for foreigners suspected of supporting the entry of asylum seekers, and for preventing Hungarian citizens from approaching the country’s border regions if they are similarly suspected.

In addition, the latest version would see NGOs having to undergo a “check” by the security services before being authorized to operate.

“If NGOs refuse to apply for this permission, or if it’s refused, a fine will be levied, and if the violation continues, they could be banned from operating,” government spokesman Bence Tuzson tells reporters.

— AFP

TV: Police tell Netanyahu they recommend he be indicted for bribery, breach of trust

Police officials have reportedly informed Netanyahu that they are recommending he be indicted for bribery and breach of trust in both of the corruption investigations against him.

According to Hadashot news, the prime minister’s lawyers have been informed of the impending police  announcement to this effect.

In the so-called Case 1000, Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors, reportedly including hundreds of thousands of shekels’ worth of cigars and champagne from the Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.

Arnon Milchan, left, and Benjamin Netanyahu on March 28, 2005. (Flash90)

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 denies any wrongdoing.

The police recommendations are not binding. A decision on whether to indict will be made by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, and the decision-making process may take some time.

In the interim, Netanyahu is expected to battle against calls to resign from opposition politicians.

Police deny reports AG holding up Netanyahu indictment recommendation

Police say there is “no truth” to reports that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is delaying them from publishing recommendations on whether to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in two corruption cases against him.

“There is close cooperation between the police commissioner, the head of the investigations unit, the State Prosecution, and the attorney general, as always,” a police spokesperson says.

Police are reportedly preparing to publicize their recommendations this evening.

— Raoul Wootliff

Police recommend Yedioth Ahronoth publisher be indicted for bribery

Along with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, police are recommending the publisher of Yedioth Ahronoth, Arnon Mozes, be indicted for bribery.

Mozes was implicated in Case 2000, the investigation into an illicit quid pro-quo deal between Netanyahu and 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.

In the reported agreement, which was not implemented, the prime minister said he would advance legislation to curb the circulation of Israel Hayom if Mozes instructed his reporters and op-ed writers to change their often negative stance towards him.

Opposition MK demands PM resign as police recommend indictment for bribery

Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg calls on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign after police recommend he be indicted for bribery and breach of trust in two separate corruption cases.

“A prime minister goes to jail, this is a sad day for democracy,” she tweets. “Netanyahu has lost the moral authority over his government.

“If he does not resign tonight, each one of his 60 coalition members should stand up and say: enough. Get up and leave,” Zandberg says.

Netanyahu confidant says indictment recommendation an effort to oust PM

A Netanyahu confidant, David Amsalem, says police’s recommendation that the prime minister be indicted for bribery is a politically motivated effort to oust him from office.

“This is nothing new. The target was marked two years ago. They have fired dozens of arrows towards him in the hope that one of them will hit it, and after they have turned over every stone, in every corner of the world, the police did everything on order to reach their goal,” Likud MK Amsalem says in a statement.

“According to my understanding, we are talking about an illegitimate process that endangers every democratic country in the world,” he says. “In a democratic country, the government is overturned at the ballot box and not by the army or the police.”

— Raoul Wootliff

Police say Yair Lapid a central witness against Netanyahu

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid is a central witness against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu in one of the corruption cases against him.

According to Hadashot news, Lapid was a witness to an allegedly illicit deal made between Netanyahu and Israeli Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan.

Netanyahu decries ‘slander’ after police recommend indictment

Responding to police’s recommendation that he be indicted for bribery, Netanyahu says the months-long investigation into his alleged corruption amounts to slander against him and his family.

He says some 15 investigations have been opened against him over his years as prime minister, in order to “topple him from power.”

“They have brutally attacked my wife and children to hurt me,” he says, in remarks delivered outside his home.

“This time too things will end without anything,” he says. “These recommendations have no place in a democratic state.”

He says there was “no basis” for police investigations into him.

Netanyahu says he disbanded last government over Israel Hayom law

Netanyahu says the 2014 law that would have curtailed the distribution of free newspapers was the reason he disbanded his last government.

In remarks responding to the police recommendation that he be indicted for bribery, Netanyahu denies offering to help pass the Israel Hayom bill in a quid pro quo deal with Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes, and says he called for new elections in order to undercut him.

“The only thing that interests me is guaranteeing the future of our country,” he says, before asserting that his government will complete its term and that, if the people will it, he will lead the government after the next elections as well.

Zionist Union MKs demand PM resign in the wake of indictment recommendation

Zionist Union MK Shelly Yachimovich demands Netanyahu step down after police recommend he be indicted for bribery in both of the corruption cases against him.

“A corrupt tyrant with no restraint, whom the police ask to have accused of the most serious crimes of corruption, announces that he’s not going,” she tweets, after Netanyahu asserted the recommendations to indict him on corruption charges “will end with nothing.”

“His actions are corrupt and ugly, his behavior is violent and egocentric, he’s prepared to destroy everything so long as he survives,” Yachimovich says. “Go, go, corrupt man. And you, his partners, if you allow him to serve in this nightmare, then the stain of corruption will stick to you forever too.”

Zionist Union’s Eyal Ben-Reuven also calls on Netanyahu to “resign immediately” in the wake of the police recommendations.

“Go your own way, fight for your innocence,” he says. “The state of Israel needs a leader whose hands are clean and who is solely devoted to the affairs of the country.”

Tourism minister says police recommendations an effort to stage coup

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin slams the police recommendation to indict Netanyahu on bribery charges as a “despicable move” by law enforcement.

“This despicable move revealed tonight is an effort to stage a coup against the will of the voter,” Levin says. “It is a disgrace that the main witness against Prime Minister Netanyahu is the politician Yair Lapid, who has been trying to replace him for years.”

Odeh: Netanyahu is ‘dangerous,’ will ‘do anything’ to stay in power

Ayman Odeh, the head of the Joint (Arab) List, calls Netanyahu a “dangerous” leader, saying the prime minister will do whatever it takes to stay in power.

“Netanyahu is a corrupt and dangerous prime minister and tonight he’s even more dangerous, because it’s clear that from the moment that his seat becomes unstable, he will do anything to stay in government,” Odeh tweets. “Netanyahu must go home.”

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Tourism minister says police recommendations an effort to stage coup

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin slams the police recommendation to indict Netanyahu on bribery charges as a “despicable move” by law enforcement.

“This despicable move revealed tonight is an effort to stage a coup against the will of the voter,” Levin says. “It is a disgrace that the main witness against Prime Minister Netanyahu is the politician Yair Lapid, who has been trying to replace him for years.”