By Ilan Evyatar/TPS
Israel’s political system was thrown into turmoil Tuesday night, when police submitted recommendations to charge Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu with bribery and breach of trust in two separates cases, one in which he allegedly received gifts from wealthy benefactors in exchange for promoting their financial interests and another in which he allegedly traded favors with newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes.
Following a 14-month long investigation, Netanyahu is charged with receiving cigars, champagne, and jewelry worth over a million shekels in what has been labeled Case 1,000. Police said Netanyahu and his family received gifts worth a total of some NIS 750,000 from the billionaire Israeli producer Arnon Milchan during an almost decade-long period running from 2007 to 2016 and that from 2014 he had received gifts worth some NIS 250,000 from the Australian businessman James Packer, who owns a house next to the Netanyahu’s residence in Caesarea.
Police said there was sufficient evidence against Netanyahu for the offense of accepting bribes, fraud, and breach of trust regarding his connection with Arnon Milchan and fraud and breach of trust In connection with Packer.
Pollice listed a number of ways in which Netanyahu had allegedly acted to promote Milchan’s interests: promoting a taxation amendment that would benefit Milchan to the tune of millions of shekels; using his influence with American officials including the then Secretary of State John Kerry to sort out Milchan’s United States visa; promoting Milchan’s interests in a deal to become a shareholder in the Reshet-Keshet TV franchise while Netanyahu was Communications Minister and in that role also dealing with the affairs of Channel 10 TV despite being aware of a potential conflict of interest as his friend Milchan was a shareholder in the channel; and promoting a venture that Milchan was involved in with the Indian businessman Ratan Tata.
Police also recommended that the prime minister face charges in Case 2,000 in which he allegedly offered to promote legislation that would limit the circulation of Israel Hayom, a freesheet that was launched in July 2007 by long-time Netanyahu supporter and benefactor Sheldon Adelson, in exchange for positive coverage by Yedioth Achronoth. Police said that Netanyahu and Yedioth publisher Mozes discussed various ways to promote their mutual interests at a time when Netanyahu was also Communications Minister, among them the legislation to curtail Israel Hayom’s circulation, scrapping its weekend edition and negotiating the sale of Yedioth.