Israeli police question Netanyahu again over alleged telecoms corruption

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Prime minister has been plagued by multiple allegations, which have snowballed into three separate criminal investigations

Netanyahu is currently facing three separate investigations of corruption (Reuters)
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Tuesday 10 July 2018 11:54 UTC
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is currently facing three investigations over alleged corruption, was questioned again by police on Tuesday in a case involving Israel's largest telecoms firm, Israel's Army Radio reported.

In an investigation known as Case 4000, Netanyahu faces allegations that while serving as communications minister between 2014 and 2017, he secured regulatory favours worth hundreds of millions of dollars for Bezeq Telecom Israel, the country's main telecoms company, controlled by businessman Shaul Elovitch. 

He is also alleged to have intervened with regulators in return for positive coverage of himself and his wife, Sara Netanyahu, from Walla, a news site also controlled by Elovitch.

Netanyahu denies all wrongdoing, and claims all corruption cases pending against him are fraudulent and concocted by his political opponents and enemies in the media.

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Netanyahu's anti-democratic wager

Israeli police questioned Netanyahu in the prime minister's official residence in Jerusalem, and have yet to make a recommendation about charges in Case 4000.

A police spokesperson declined to comment to Reuters, and a spokesman for Netanyahu had no immediate comment.

In the two other cases, in which police already recommended in February that Netanyahu be charged with bribery, the final decision regarding whether to prosecute the prime minister rests with the Israeli attorney general - a decision that could be months away.

In Case 1000, Netanyahu is suspected of accepting bribery gifts worth almost $300,000 from wealthy businessmen.

Case 2000 involves allegations that the Israeli premier attempted to win favourable coverage in Yediot Ahronoth, the country’s largest newspaper, by attempting to hinder the circulation of a rival.

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Netanyahu is in trouble, but who will replace him?

Netanyahu's wife Sara is also in hot water after being charged with fraud and breach of trust last month over alleged misuse of state funds - including allegedly spending nearly $100,000 in official funds for take-out meals supplied by gourmet restaurants to the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem. 

So far, partners in Netanyahu’s governing coalition have stood by him, saying they are awaiting the attorney general’s next moves.

However, political pressure could mount calling for Netanyahu to step down if he is charged.

Netanyahu could also call a snap election to try to stall legal proceedings during the campaign and rally his right-wing power base behind him. Polls predict that Netanyahu’s Likud party would gain seats and position it far ahead of all other factions.