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Netanyahu slams media 'witch hunt' after police announce new investigation

News Agencies | Updated on: 19 February 2018, 13:53 IST
Benjamin_Netanyahu (ANI)

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blamed "media witch hunt" for the new investigation announced by the Police, amid the already existing corruption allegations against him.

According to CNN, Netanyahu said in a statement, "The media witch hunt continues with all its might. After the air came out of Case 1000 and Case 2000 and after it became clear that there is absolutely no air in Case 3000, the media put tremendous pressure to inflate another balloon -- [Case] 4000. Also from this [case], all the air will come out."

Locally referred to as Case 4000, Israeli Police announced an investigation into Israeli telecommunications firm Bezeq working, with the Israel Securities Authority and Lahav 433, a police unit specializing in corruption investigations.

Netanyahu's name has not been named among suspects.

Several suspects have been arrested in the case, following investigations that openly began in June 2017.

Without naming anyone, a statement issued by the Police at the conclusion of investigation in November said that the investigation had involved senior employees at telecommunications firm Bezeq, cable company Yes, and state employees

Maintaining his innocence in the case, Netanyahu said in his statement, "All of the decisions that were made relating to Bezeq were made in consideration of professional committees and experts."

The Israeli Prime Minister is already mired in several charges and allegations, with the police even recommending that he be indicted on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.

The police said that there was enough evidence to prosecute him on allegations that he had accepted lavish gifts from wealthy businessmen and also tried to negotiate a corrupt deal with a newspaper publisher.

Netanyahu is accused of accepting bribes worth one million Iranian shekels.

The first probe against the Prime Minister focused on claims that he and his family illegally accepted extravagant gifts including champagne and cigars from Arnon Milchan, an Israeli Hollywood producer, and James Packer, an Australian millionaire.

It is believed that to return the favour, Netanyahu allegedly helped to pass legislation that would benefit Milchan's businesses and also tried to get him a visa to the United States.

The Prime Minister admitted to taking the above-mentioned gifts but claimed that they were presents between friends and had nothing to do with any political favours.

It is also believed that Netanyahu offered a corrupt deal to Arnon Mozes, the publisher of Yedioth Ahronoth, one of Israel's largest newspapers.

Netanyahu allegedly said that he would restrict the circulation of Israel Hayom, a free sheet newspaper which had eaten into Yedioth Ahronoth's market share.

In return, the Prime Minister allegedly wanted more favourable coverage.

The final decision on whether or not to bring charges against Netanyahu lies with Israeli attorney general Avichai Mandelblit.

--ANI

First published: 19 February 2018, 13:53 IST
 
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