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State prosecutor denies foot-dragging in Netanyahu probes

Shai Nitzan defends investigators’ handling of corruption cases involving PM, rejects allegation Israel a ‘corrupt state’

State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan speaks at an Israel Bar Association conference in Tel Aviv on August 29, 2017. (Roy Alima/Flash90)
State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan speaks at an Israel Bar Association conference in Tel Aviv on August 29, 2017. (Roy Alima/Flash90)

State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan said Thursday that a pair of corruption investigations involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have taken longer than police initially anticipated due to unforeseen developments in the cases.

Nitzan did not provide any details of these developments. He said although completion of the investigations has been delayed, police and prosecutors are obligated to pursue every possible lead in the case.

“We are making every effort and I hope that the investigation won’t take much longer,” Nitzan told Israel Radio. “We constantly have work to do in order to ensure we turn over every rock and collect all the evidence.”

Nitzan also strongly rejected claims that the investigators are slow-walking the investigations.

“No one is dragging out the investigations of Netanyahu. It’s nonsense to say this,” he said.

Acknowledging the public importance of the cases, Nitzan said while investigators are seeking to keep the public apprised of the investigations, they cannot divulge many details that could “torpedo” their progress.

He also reiterated that Netanyahu is not a suspect in a case involving the purchase of naval vessels from a German shipbuilder that has ensnared a number of military and political officials, including associates of the prime minister.

Netanyahu is currently involved in two corruption investigations, known as Cases 1000 and 2000.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife Sara (C) and their son Yair seen with actress Kate Hudson at an event held at the home of producer Arnon Milchan (right), March 6, 2014. (Avi Ohayon/GPO/Flash90)

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

Case 2000 involves a suspected illicit quid pro quo deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon “Noni” 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 has denied wrongdoing in both cases.

In light of the investigations involving Netanyahu, as well as a slew of other recent graft cases, Nitzan said while corruption exists in Israel, Israel is not a corrupt state.

“A corrupt state is a state that doesn’t fight against corruption,” he said.

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