Israeli police again question Netanyahu on corruption allegations

Israeli police have recommended indicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on corruption charges in two other cases. (AFP)
Updated 17 August 2018
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Israeli police again question Netanyahu on corruption allegations

  • Two police vehicles arrived on Friday at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence
  • Media reported that Netanyahu is to be questioned over a corruption case involving Israel’s telecom giant

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went through a new round of questioning on Friday, police said, amid graft allegations that have threatened to topple him.
The premier was questioned at his official residence in the context of investigations by the national economic crimes unit, a police statement in Hebrew said.
It gave no further details.
Investigators arrived at the premier’s Jerusalem residence in the morning to interview him over allegations of corruption involving local telecoms giant Bezeq and its largest shareholder, Shaul Elovitch, according to Israeli media reports.
It was the 12th time Netanyahu has been questioned in various cases, either as a suspect or a witness.
In the Bezeq case, Netanyahu is alleged to have sought favorable coverage from another Elovitch company, the Walla news site, in exchange for government policies that could have benefited the mogul’s interests to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.
After a previous round of questioning in July, Netanyahu’s office said there was no such trade-off.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu has never made a deal with Elovitch in exchange for supportive coverage,” it said, adding that the Walla site had consistently covered the premier “in a hostile manner.”
Elovitch was arrested in February along with six other people including Nir Hefetz, a former media adviser to the Netanyahu family.
In addition to the premiership, Netanyahu also held the communications portfolio between November 2014 and February 2017, covering the run-up to the March 2015 elections, when he is alleged to have made the deal with Elovitch.
Netanyahu was interrogated for more than five hours in July, reportedly over the same affair.
In a separate case, his wife Sara was charged in June with misusing state funds to buy catered meals costing $100,000 (85,000 euros) by falsely declaring there were no cooks available at the premier’s official residence.
In February, police recommended the premier be indicted in two cases, though the attorney general has yet to decide whether to do so.
Netanyahu, prime minister for around 12 years in total, has maintained his innocence in all of the cases, talking of a “witch hunt” and saying he was determined to stay in his job.
He would not be legally obliged to resign if charged.
So far his coalition partners have stood by him despite the allegations, but the investigations have gradually ratcheted up speculation over whether he will eventually be forced from office.


Netanyahu: Israel will continue operations in Syria against Iran

Updated 30 min 3 sec ago
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Netanyahu: Israel will continue operations in Syria against Iran

  • Russia said on Monday it would supply an S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Syria in two weeks despite strong Israeli objections
  • Israel has long lobbied Moscow not to provide the S-300 to Syria

JERUSALEM: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday Israel would continue its military operations in Syria, after Russia announced it would supply an advanced anti-aircraft system to its Syrian ally.
“We will continue to act to prevent Iranian military entrenchment in Syria and we will continue the military coordination between the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) and the Russian army,” Netanyahu told reporters before boarding a flight to New York, where he will address the UN General Assembly.
Russia said on Monday it would supply an S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Syria in two weeks despite strong Israeli objections, a week after Moscow accused Israel of indirectly causing the downing of a Russian military jet in Syria.
Russia, which fights in Syria to support the government against rebels and militants, has said Syrian anti-aircraft batteries shot its IL-20 surveillance plane down by mistake shortly after Israeli jets hit a nearby target.
Moscow accused Israel of creating dangerous conditions that caused the incident.
Israel, which has carried out air strikes in Syria many times during the civil war, said after the incident it would work to improve “deconfliction” of its missions with Russian forces, but would not halt them.
Netanyahu spoke by telephone with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday. In his remarks on Tuesday, Netanyahu said he had agreed with Putin “that the working teams from the IDF and the Russian army will meet soon.”
The Israeli leader made the remarks after convening his security cabinet to discuss the tensions with Moscow.
“Over the past three years, Israel has been highly successful in preventing the Iranian military entrenchment in Syria and Iranian attempts to transfer lethal weaponry to Hezbollah in Lebanon,” Netanyahu said.
But he said there had been occasions when things had not gone smoothly, calling Syria’s downing of the Russian plane “tragic.”
Israel has long lobbied Moscow not to provide the S-300 to Syria, fearing this would hinder its aerial capability to strike the forces of Iran and its Hezbollah allies in Syria.