Israeli police to question Netanyahu over
alleged gifts: media
Send a link to a friend
[January 02, 2017]
By Luke Baker
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Police are expected
to question Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his official residence
in Jerusalem on Monday on suspicion of receiving gifts from businessmen
in breach of his role as a public servant, Israeli media reported.
The move was authorized by Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, who
decided after a preliminary probe that there was sufficient evidence for
a criminal investigation, Haaretz newspaper reported. The questioning
will take place on Monday evening, Israel Radio said.
The police and Justice Ministry would not confirm when the interview
would take place or the nature of the investigation, details of which
have appeared in the media in recent days. Netanyahu's office has denied
"All the supposed affairs will turn out to be fiction," his family
spokesman said on Monday. "We are repeating: there will be nothing,
because there is nothing."
Photographers were camped outside the heavily guarded residence, hoping
to get pictures of investigators arriving. Black screens were erected
inside the gates of the property to block the view.
Haaretz and other newspapers said the probe related to gifts worth
"hundreds of thousands of shekels" ($1=3.85 shekels) given to Netanyahu
by Israeli and foreign businessmen.
Channel 2, a commercial network, said the investigation was one of two
cases now open against the prime minister, although it said details of
the second remained unclear.
Netanyahu, 67, has been in power on and off since 1996. He is currently
in his fourth term as prime minister and will become Israel's
longest-serving leader if he stays in office until the end of next year.
He and his wife, Sara, have weathered several scandals over the years,
including investigations into the misuse of state funds and an audit of
the family's spending on everything from laundry to ice cream. They have
denied any wrongdoing.
Netanyahu is not the first prime minister to be questioned in a criminal
[to top of second column]
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet
meeting in Jerusalem January 1, 2017. REUTERS/Gali Tibbon/Pool
Ehud Olmert, who held office from 2006 to 2009, is currently serving
18 months in prison after being convicted of breach of trust and
bribery in 2014.
Former prime minister Ariel Sharon was questioned while in office in
2003 and 2004 over allegations of bribery and corruption involving
him and his two sons. In 2006, his son Omri was convicted of
corruption and served time in prison.
Netanyahu's police appointment drew a barrage of commentary from the
center-left opposition in parliament, with politicians calling for
him to go.
Ahead of a cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu responded, saying:
"I suggest the opposition calm down."
Israeli commentators pointed out that while Netanyahu may be
questioned, it has happened many times in the past and prime
ministers have gone on governing, sometimes for years.
(Editing by Mark Trevelyan)
[© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2017 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.