Prime Minister Netanyahu came out swinging in the aftermath of police recommendations to indict him on two counts of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, defiantly saying he would not resign and predicting that he would be re-elected for a fifth term as prime minister towards the end of 2019.
In a televised speech to the nation on Tuesday, Netanyahu repeated his long-standing insistence that “nothing is going to come of this, because nothing happened,” and said he would continue to work to secure the country’s future.
“I believe this government will go the distance,” he said. “I and our terrific ministers will continue to work to make Israel into a global military, economic and technological superpower.
Netanyahu also repeated the accusation that a “heavy cloud” hangs over the investigation as a result of accusations by Police Chief Roni Alsheich in recent weeks that unnamed individuals tried to intimidate police investigators, and stressed that he has often been the subject of corruption allegations since first becoming prime minister in 1996 – and has been exonerated every time.
“That’s why you – the people of this country – have elected me, again and again,” Netanyahu said.
Addressing the charges at hand, the prime minister said the facts of each case illustrated the opposite of the allegations against him because he acted against the interests of the individuals – Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Yedioth Aharonoth publisher Noni Moses – that he is accused of colluding with.
“All of those times began -like tonight – with huge media headlines. And like those times, I am telling you: This time, too, nothing will come out of all this,” he said.
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.
Police 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 free sheet that was launched in July, 2007 by long-time Netanyahu supporter and benefactor Sheldon Adelson, in exchange for positive coverage by Yedioth Ahronoth. 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 curtails Israel Hayom’s circulation, scrapping its weekend edition and negotiating the sale of Yedioth.
By: TPS Staff
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