Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to be summoned for questioning by police about the so-called “gifts affair” and “Israel Hayom affair” after the holidays according to various reports.
Investigators likely will question the prime minister in at least four sessions, Kan, the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, reported on Tuesday.
Police said there is “loads of evidence” in the cases, and summoning the prime minister will allow him to address it “patiently,” according to the report.
In “the gifts affair,” which the police call Case 1000, it is suspected that Netanyahu may have illegally received expensive gifts from various businessmen. In the “Israel Hayom
affair,” or Case 2000, Netanyahu allegedly tried to negotiate favorable coverage of himself from Yediot Aharonot, the Hebrew newspaper with the second highest circulation, in exchange for his support of a bill to weaken Israel Hayom, the Hebrew newspaper with the highest circulation.
It was revealed in August that police are investigating the prime minister on suspicion of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
Netanyahu utterly rejects the allegations.
“The witch-hunt seeking to topple the government is in full swing, but it will fail for this simple reason: There will be nothing because there was nothing [to the investigations],” he said on his Facebook page.
Former prime minister Ehud Barak responded to Kan’s report on Tuesday, saying Netanyahu is on his way out.
“Things are closing in on him, it’s painful to watch,” Barak wrote on Twitter.
“But Likudniks are honest people. Bibi will have to leave Balfour [Street, where the Prime Minister’s Residence is located]. It is a shame that it happens this way.”
Channel 10 News reported on Tuesday that nine years ago, Israeli Hollywood movie mogul Arnon Milchan tried to mediate between Indian billionaire Ratan Tata, who was interested in establishing a free trade zone adjacent to the Jordanian border, and Netanyahu.
Tata, who will arrive in Israel later this month to attend a cars and technology conference, will be summoned to testify, according to the report.
The police are expected to ask Tata about his relations with Netanyahu and Milchan.
Israel police investigators questioned Milchan under caution last month in London, regarding suspicions that he bribed Netanyahu, according to a Haaretz report.
Earlier, Milchan testified twice in the Case 1000 investigation, but not as a suspect.