(photo credit: REUTERS)
After several attempts to coordinate an interrogation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, investigators will question him under caution on Monday, Israel Radio reported on Sunday.
The prime minister is suspected of receiving improper gifts worth hundreds of thousands of shekels from Israeli and foreign businessmen, in a manner which breached his duty of trust as a public servant.
Reportedly there is a second more serious case against Netanyahu, the details of which remain unknown. Channel 2 also mentioned the possibility of the more severe charge of an attempt to receive a bribe, though that charge which inherently means no bribe was actually given is notoriously hard to prove.
This comes as reports surfaced over the weekend that World Jewish Congress President and long-time ally Ronald Lauder was recently questioned by police.
MK David Amsalem (Likud) said on Sunday he would propose a bill to block investigations of future sitting prime ministers, as the law is in some countries such as France. The law would not apply to Netanyahu, but is seen as a rebuke of the police. Also on Sunday, Likud sources told Channel 2 that even if Netanyahu gets into more serious trouble, they would not call an early election and would maintain Likud dominance over the current coalition.
The reports of Netanyahu’s impending questioning come after a series of vague reports about preliminary probes into several allegations regarding the prime minister.
This comes as Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit reportedly approved a criminal investigation of Netanyahu, but, in an unprecedented move, would make no announcement about moving from apreliminary probe to a criminal investigation until after the police question Netanyahu under caution.
Mandelblit discussed the investigation with the prime minister as early as December 12, Channel 2 reported on Friday.
In spite of the latest more specific reports, the Justice Ministry and police are maintaining a complete blackout, refusing to comment.
Netanyahu issued various responses over the weekend denying all accusations and intimating that his accusers are trying to get him in trouble with the police, since they cannot win an election. “Try to replace the prime minister at the ballot box, as is customary practice in a democracy,” the prime minister said on his Facebook page on Saturday night.