Police Questions Netanyahu in Telecom Corruption Case

Police Questions Netanyahu in Telecom Corruption Case

Police have recommended indicting Mr Netanyahu on corruption charges in two other cases.

Investigators are in possession of correspondence between the prime minister's wife, Sara Netanyahu, and the wife of a business tycoon that appear to implicate her in the burgeoning Bezeq corruption scandal, Channel 10 News reported Thursday.

Mr Netanyahu was questioned at his official residence just hours before he was due to fly to the United States.

Under official protocol, the interview with the prime minister took place at his residence in Jerusalem, while Sara Netanyahu's interview occurred at the police investigation headquarters. Nir Hefetz was Mr Netanyahu's head of communications and David Sharan served as his chief of staff.

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The investigation was opened under suspicions that the Israeli prime minister exchanged "favors" with the director of the news agency Walla to benefit from a favorable coverage of him.

The cases have fuelled speculation he could be forced to step down or call an early election but Netanyahu says he is innocent of any wrongdoing.

In Case 3000, which may be even more explosive, several members of Netanyahu's inner circle have been named as suspects, questioned or arrested in what is said to be a corrupt multibillion-dollar submarine deal with Germany.

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Meanwhile, Bezeq Telecom's controlling shareholder Shual Elovitch along with a former Netanyahu spokesperson are in police custody.

"A prime minister under investigation can not, and may not, take crucial decisions", said Shuki Cohen, 63, an economist from Moshav Arugot.

According to police, Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan was responsible for some 750,000 shekels in gifts, while Australian billionaire James Packer provided the other 250,000 shekels' worth.

Despite the allegations surrounding Netanyahu, his political position appears as strong as ever, and members of his right-wing coalition say they have no intention of dismantling the government unless the attorney general decides to pursue an indictment against him.

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Bezeq's owner, Shaul Elovitch, is a longtime friend of Netanyahu and has also been detained as part of the investigation. But surveys also show strong support among Netanyahu's core base, while the Likud Party remains ahead of all other Israeli parties. In the meantime, Netanyahu is not obligated to resign and has indicated he will fight the charges while remaining in office.

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