Prime Minister Netanyahu appeared to laugh off police recommendations that he be indicted in a series of corruption investigations in a video released Sunday for the start of the Hanukkah holiday.
In the Hebrew-language clip, Netanyahu approaches a man complaining about life in Israel, as he waits in line at a bakery to buy doughnuts traditionally eaten for Hanukkah, who asks the premier if they being filmed for a live stream.
“No, no we’re in the same boat,” Netanyahu reassures the man. “I call them all the time, ask to order take-out and they don’t believe [me] and think I’m joking with them. They called the police on me.”
“Case 5000,” the man says jokingly in response, referring to the so-called cases 1000, 2000 and 4000 in which Netanyahu has been implicated.
“Leave it. Who is even counting,” Netanyahu says dismissively.
בשביל הדברים הטובים שווה לחכות… חג חנוכה שמח!
Posted by Benjamin Netanyahu – בנימין נתניהו on Sunday, 2 December 2018
It was not clear if the clip was filmed before or after police on Sunday recommended he be indicted for taking bribes in the Bezeq-Walla corruption probe, known as Case 4000.
Reacting seriously to the charges later Sunday, the prime minister dismissed them as a “witch-hunt.”
“The witch-hunt against us continues,” Netanyahu told a crowd of Likud supporters at the party’s official Hanukkah lighting ceremony at the Kfar Maccabiah Hotel in Tel Aviv.
The investigation, he claimed, was biased and “skewed from the start… A year ago, before even opening the investigations,” he charged of the police, “they decided what the outcome would be and leaked their conclusions.”
Investigators said earlier Sunday they believed there was enough evidence to bring Netanyahu to trial on charges of accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust, and fraudulently accepting benefits. It is the third case in which police have recommended bribery charges against the prime minister. They also recommended that his wife, Sara, stand trial in the case.
Investigators said that Netanyahu advanced regulatory decisions benefiting Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder in Bezeq, the country’s largest telecommunications firm — despite opposition from the Communication Ministry’s career officials — in exchange for positive coverage from Elovitch’s Walla news site. At the time when a merger of Bezeq with the Yes satellite operator was approved in 2015 — a deal at the heart of the case, said to have benefited Elovitch to the tune of hundreds of millions of shekels — the prime minister was also serving as acting communications minister.
Netanyahu rejected the specific allegations, saying that there was no benefit to either side in the alleged quid pro quo. “I didn’t give anything to Elovitch and I didn’t get anything from Elovitch,” he said.
Earlier this year, police recommended that Netanyahu be charged with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in two other corruption cases, designated cases 1000 and 2000. The following month, Netanyahu said that law enforcement officials were being pressured to pursue criminal investigations against him.
In the Hannukah video, Netanyahu also turned to his favorite topic, Iran, using his interlocutor’s remark about a “bomb doughnut” as a jumping off point.
“You said bomb? You remember the nuclear deal with Iran? They said there is nothing to do, the whole world supports it, but I never gave up,” he says.
Earlier this year, US President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed sanctions.
When the man reacts in shock to the number 6000 being called out, apparently thinking this is another case against Netanyahu, the prime minister assures him there is nothing to worry about.
“That is your number in line, or the number of calories you are going to eat,” he tells the man jokingly.