Israel police say evidence to lay bribery charge on Netanyahu lawyer

Israel police say evidence to lay bribery charge on Netanyahu lawyer
Netanyahu along with his wife and multiple associates have been or are under police investigation for corruption-related charges.
3 min read
08 November, 2018
Netanyahu addresses a health conference in Tel Aviv [Getty]
Israeli police said there was evidence to charge Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's lawyer with bribery, as legal questions about the premier and his associates mount.

While Netanyahu was questioned as a witness and not a suspect in the case against David Shimron, Thursday's news adds further pressure on the premier. 

In addition to Shimron, police said former chief of Netanyahu's office David Sharan as well as navy head Eliezer Marom are also suspected of bribery.

Two other navy ex-generals were named as being suspected of similar offences, as was a former minister, Eliezer Zandberg.

There was however "insufficient evidence" against another Netanyahu lawyer and longtime associate, Yitzhak Molcho. 

Police issued the statement at the conclusion of the long-running investigation into Israel's purchase of submarines manufactured by German industrial giant ThyssenKrupp.

The police's findings will now be handed over to the attorney general, who will decide whether the suspects should be charged.

Netanyahu had not commented on the police's findings.

Thursday's comments by police surround one of several cases that have led to intense scrutiny of the Israeli premier. 

In February, police recommended Netanyahu be indicted in two graft probes, though the attorney general has yet to decide whether to do so.

Allegations against Netanyahu include seeking a secret deal with the publisher of Israel's top-selling newspaper Yediot Aharonot to ensure positive coverage in return for pushing forward a law that would have limited the circulation of a rival.

Another case involves suspicions that he and his family received luxury gifts from wealthy individuals in exchange for financial or personal favours.

The gifts allegedly included pricey cigars, jewellery and champagne and total $283,000, according to police.

There is also an ongoing inquiry into the premier's ties with local telecoms giant Bezeq and its largest shareholder, Shaul Elovitch.

Separately, Netanyahu's wife Sara went on trial in October for allegedly using state funds to fraudulently pay for hundreds of meals. The case has been adjourned until 13 November.

Netanyahu has strongly denied all accusations against him and his family, calling them a bid by his political enemies to force him from office.

He has been prime minister for a total of more than 12 years, from 1996 to 1999 and again since 2009.

Netanyahu is not legally required to step down if indicted - only if he is convicted with all appeals exhausted.

Earlier this year, thousands gathered in Tel Aviv to demand the premier's resignation in what was the first protest following police recommendations that he be indicted for corruption.

Demonstrators carried signs reading "crooks go home" and "crime minister". The crowd also erupted in chants of "Liar! Liar!". 

Meanwhile, three polls published in early 2018 showed that between 45 to 50 per cent say Netanyahu should resign or temporarily step aside, with 40 to 43 per cent saying he should stay on.

Follow us on Twitter: @The_NewArab