Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a weekly cabinet meeting on February 4, 2018..
(photo credit: EMIL SALMAN/POOL)
Ahead of expected police recommendations on whether to indict him in two corruption probes, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu published a video on social media on Wednesday dismissing their importance, and stressing that it is up to the attorney- general to decide.
“Many of you are asking – what will be [in the future]?” Netanyahu asked in the video. “So I want to reassure you, there will be nothing because I know the truth.
“The State of Israel is a state of law, and the law in Israel says that the person to determine whether there is alleged evidence against the prime minister is the attorney-general, and he consults with the state attorney,” he said.
Netanyahu then added that State Attorney Shai Nitzan, the head of the state prosecution, said in a Knesset discussion recently that more than half of cases in which the police recommend indictments are closed with no indictment at all.
“So don’t worry,” Netanyahu said sarcastically. “There will be recommendations [to indict], and also signs reading ‘Bibi is guilty until proven otherwise,’” he said, criticizing signs that were spotted at the ongoing Saturday night anti-corruption protests in Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit’s neighborhood in Petah Tikva and at Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv.
“But I am certain that in the end of the day, the legal authorities can only reach one conclusion, the simple truth: There is nothing [to the allegations],” Netanyahu concluded.
This comes as the top command of police met on Wednesday evening to finalize the recommendations before the case is handed over to the state prosecution, which will then decide whether to indict the prime minister.
The investigative team presented Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. Roni Alsheich with a document summarizing both cases, Channel 2 News reported on Wednesday night.
It was reported that in Case 1000, the “expensive gifts affair,” the team recommends indicting the prime minister for accepting bribes, fraud, and breach of trust. In Case 2000, the “Yediot Aharonot affair,” the team is not planning to present any recommendations, but rather to leave it up to the state prosecution to decide.
Police plan to announce the recommendation next week, presumably on Monday or Tuesday, it was reported on Tuesday.
In Case 1000, police suspect that Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, received presents worth hundreds of thousands of shekels from various businessmen, and in return the prime minister used his influence to benefit them.
One of these businessmen is Israeli Hollywood movie producer Arnon Milchan. In a recent Channel 10 News report, it was revealed that during a meeting to discuss how Netanyahu could help him in extending his US visa, the latter asked him: “Where are my cigars?”
In Case 2000, it is suspected that Netanyahu negotiated with Yediot Aharonot newspaper publisher Arnon “Noni” Mozes for favorable coverage, in exchange for support of a bill to weaken Israel Hayom, the highest circulation Hebrew-language paper, and Yediot’s biggest competitor.
Labor Party chairman Avi Gabbay, in response to Netanyahu’s video, called on Alsheich to publicly announce police’s recommendations in both cases.
“It would be appropriate that when the investigations are over, the police commissioner would stand in front of the Israeli public in a live broadcast and explain in detail the recommendations in Netanyahu’s corruption cases,” he said.
“Whatever the recommendations will be, it is the right of the public to know firsthand and not from partial leaks the position of the investigators and what are the police recommendations.
“I expect from the prime minister to demand that the investigations and the legal procedures end as soon as possible, and not to attack the police and the rule of law,” Gabbay said.