First it was the "gifts affair" and the "Yediot Aharanot Affair", now Israeli Police have recommended for the third time this year that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted for purportedly accepting bribes from a media mogul in exchange for favorable policy decisions in what has become known as the "Bezeq Walla Affair".
A statement posted to Twitter by the Israel Police affirmed that there is credible evidence that Netanyahu and his wife Sarah Netanyahu (who was also indicted separately for fraud in a scandal known as the "Prepared Foods Affair") accepted bribes from Shaul Elovitch, the owner of Israel's largest telecoms firm, Bezeq. Elovitch also owns the "Walla" news website.
הסתיימה חקירת תיק 4000: עם סיום החקירה עמדת משטרת ישראל והרשות לניירות ערך היא כי נתגבשה תשתית ראייתית מספקת לביסוס החשדות נגד המעורבים העיקריים בפרשה. נגד רה"מ בנימין נתניהו התגבשה תשתית ראייתית מספקת לביצוע עבירות של לקיחת שוחד, מרמה והפרת אמונים וקבלת דבר במרמה בנסיבות מחמירות— משטרת ישראל (@IL_police) December 2, 2018
In the statement above, the Israeli police said, now that the investigation has been concluded, that sufficient evidence has been gathered to support bringing charges against Netanyahu for accepting bribes. Police could also bring charges for fraud and "breach of allegiance."
As RT explains, Netanyahu is accused of firing Communications Ministry Director-General Avi Berger and hiring ex-Netanyahu campaign manager Shlomo Filber to help guarantee special treatment for Elovitch and his companies. In exchange, Netanyahu and his wife struck a deal with Elovitch for favorable coverage on his news website (as we noted a few months back, Filber has agreed to testify against Netanyahu in the government's corruption case).
In a separate statement, police accused Netanyahu of intervening in the news coverage on Walla "sometimes on a daily basis."
"Netanyahu and those close to him bluntly intervened, sometimes on a daily basis, with the content being published on the Walla news website, and sought to influence the appointment of senior employees (editors and reporters), while using their ties to Shaul and Iris Elovitch."
In response to the recommendation, the prime minister denied the charges, but said he wasn’t surprised that the police had decided to take them public.
"These recommendations were decided on and leaked even before the investigations began," the statement said. Netanyahu also expressed confidence that "authorized officials" will not press forward with the case, concluding instead that “there was nothing because there is nothing."
Police also recommended that charges also be brought against Elovitch and his wife.
Netanyahu has already been declared a "political corpse" by both his allies and political opponents. Now, it's up to the State Prosecutor’s Office to decide whether to officially bring charges.