Police question Netanyahu for seventh time in corruption probe

It is still unclear whether this will be the final questioning session before the police conclude the investigation.

The police arrive at the Prime Minster's house to begin interogation of PM Netanyahu.   (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The police arrive at the Prime Minster's house to begin interogation of PM Netanyahu.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was questioned by Lahav 433 interrogators in his official residence Friday morning over his involvement in Cases 1000 (the “gifts affair”) and 2000 (the “Yediot Aharonot affair”).
In his seventh questioning in these cases, Netanyahu was questioned for more than four hours.
It has been reported that if police do not ask for another session for clarification, this will be the prime minister’s last round of questioning.
According to a Channel 10 News report, police are expected to sum up the cases in two week – and to recommend to indict Netanyahu in both of them.
After the questioning, Netanyahu posted a statement on Facebook.
“There’s nothing new under the sun. I answered all of the questions I was asked, and this time I say with full confidence: There will be nothing because there is nothing...”
The prime minister is suspected of fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes. In Case 1000, police are investigating whether Netanyahu returned favors to various businessmen who gave him expensive gifts.
Netanyahu was reportedly confronted in the questioning with testimony that was collected from Australian billionaire James Packer late last month.
Media reports said the testimony strengthens the possible charges of fraud and breach of trust against Netanyahu.
Packer reportedly gave expensive gifts to the prime minister. Reports say that he was asked by movie producer Arnon Milchan – who was also questioned in this affair and confirmed having delivered gifts in the past – to “help bear the burden of providing the gifts” to Netanyahu and his wife, Sara.
According to a Channel 10 News report, Netanyahu confirmed in his questioning receiving gifts from Packer, but not in systematic way.
“Packer was my neighbor and my friend, and I might have asked him occasionally to bring me something from abroad,” Netanyahu was quoted as saying.
“It was definitely not in a systematic and a planned way as you [the interrogators] presented it. I do not remember how many times I asked him.”
Recently, the testimony of Hadas Klein, who worked as a personal assistant for both Milchan and Packer, was made public.
Klein is considered a key witness in the investigation. She talked about a substantial supply of champagne and cigars. However, she did not know whether Milchan received anything in return.
In Case 2000, Netanyahu is accused of negotiating with Yediot Aharonot publisher Arnon “Noni” Mozes for favorable coverage in exchange for his support to weaken Israel Hayom, the most widely circulated Hebrew-language paper and Yediot’s largest competitor.
The police arrive at the Prime Minster's house to begin interogation of PM Netanyahu. The police arrive at the Prime Minster's house to begin interogation of PM Netanyahu.
On Saturday night, several thousand demonstrators in Tel Aviv took part in another anti-corruption protest against Netanyahu.
Meanwhile, the Ministerial Committee on Legislation will vote Sunday on a bill that would require a prime minister who is indicted to resign. Under the current law, even if Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit would indict Netanyahu, he would not have to resign until convicted following a trial.
The bill, sponsored by Zionist Union faction chairman Yoel Hasson, would also apply to cabinet ministers and would only apply to convictions resulting in a prison sentence of at least three years. Hasson pointed out that Netanyahu voted for a similar bill when he was the head of the opposition to then prime minister Ehud Olmert’s government in 2008.
“I accept the values that Netanyahu voted for a decade ago,” Hasson said. “A prime minister who has been indicted must resign.”
Likud MK David Amsalem’s spokesman responded that he found it ironic that in 2008 Hasson, who was then in Olmert’s Kadima Party, supported the so-called French bill, now sponsored by Amsalem, which would prevent prime ministers from being investigated while in office. Likud sources said it was extremely unlikely Hasson’s new bill would pass.

Gill Hoffman contributed to this report.