Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu.
(photo credit:AVI OHAYON - GPO)
Police questioned Sara Netanyahu late on Wednesday regarding receipt of potentially illegal gifts by herself and her husband, the prime minister.
Meanwhile, Zionist Union MK Eitan Cabel was questioned by police on Tuesday regarding alleged discussions of a quid pro quo deal between Benjamin Netanyahu and Yediot Aharonot publisher Arnon “Noni” Mozes.
Sara Netanyahu’s questioning by investigators from the National Fraud Unit was said to involve details on gifts she had received, including large quantities of pink champagne.
Netanyahu said the champagne was a legitimate gift between friends, Channel 2 reported on Thursday. This comes as both the prime minister and Mozes are due for another round of police questioning in the coming days.
Cabel acknowledged on Thursday that he gave testimony two days earlier as part of the Netanyahu-Mozes corruption allegations. A police spokeswoman declined to comment on the investigation, while the prime minister has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
“Two days ago I was summoned by the police,” Cabel told Army Radio. “They wanted to know if I knew anything.
I told them everything I knew, but it wasn’t much.”
Authorities asked the lawmaker whether he had been aware of alleged dealings between the prime minister and Mozes.
In 2014, Cabel initiated the so-called Israel Hayom bill, which sought to bolster the print newspaper industry by banning free newspapers, including the pro-Netanyahu Israel Hayom. Two weeks after the legislation passed in preliminary reading, Netanyahu dissolved the Knesset and thus the measure’s progress was halted.
Police, in what they are calling the Case 2000 file, are investigating Netanyahu, reportedly regarding allegations based on several recordings that he and Mozes sought to conspire to weakenIsrael Hayom. The allegations are said to center on the 2014 Cabel-sponsored bill, in which Mozes sought Netanyahu’s support for it in exchange for favorable coverage in Yediot Aharonot.
“If you and I agree on a [Israel Hayom] law, I will do all I can [to ensure] that you will be here as long as you want,” the Yediot publisher told the prime minister in a 2014 meeting, Channel 2 reported on Tuesday night.
Cabel, speaking to Army Radio, contended that he “was not directed by anyone,” adding, “I initiated the bill on my own, from beginning to end.”
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud), a Netanyahu confidant, was questioned on Sunday in the investigation.
Cabel and Levin’s testimony are positive for Netanyahu, as Cabel said he was contacted by neither the prime minister nor the tourism minister about the bill, Channel 10 reported.
Police are also investigating Case 1000, which deals with allegations that Netanyahu accepted hundreds of thousands of shekels worth of gifts – cigars and gourmet meals – from Israeli-born US movie mogul Arnon Milchan and Australian billionaire James Packer.
Police questioned Netanyahu under caution for a total of eight hours in two sessions last week regarding the two cases.
According to a report on Channel 10 on Wednesday, Netanyahu told investigators that he played along with Mozes during the conversation to expose the media mogul.
Channel 10 quoted authorities as saying, however, that this was not the prime minister’s original version of events.
The report also cites an anonymous source who claims there is a “consensus” in the Justice Ministry that suspects Mozes of proposing bribes in the meetings with the prime minister.
The source added that there are conflicting opinions as to whether Netanyahu’s conversation with Mozes constituted a criminal act.
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