Israeli police question Netanyahu in third corruption case

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced questions from police Friday in connection with a corruption investigation, two weeks after investigators recommended he be indicted on separate bribery and breach of trust charges.

Police investigators entered Netanyahu's residence Friday morning.

Netanyahu and his wife Sara spent 5 hours on Friday being interrogated by police unit Lahav 433 concerning their involvement in Case 4000.

The case involves allegations of government officials trading regulatory benefits for Bezeq, a top telecommunication firm, in return for positive media coverage of Netanyahu and his associates.

Police suspect Elovitch was given business concessions in return for Netanyahu receiving good press on Walla!, a news website he owns.

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It's the first time that Netanyahu, who as prime minister also held the communications portfolio until previous year, is being questioned over the affair, known as Case 4000.

Mr Netanyahu has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and has dismissed the accusations as a witch hunt orchestrated by a hostile media.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the Muni World conference in Tel Aviv, Feb. 14, 2018.

The firm has denied wrongdoing. The lawyer said Sara was questioned under police caution, indicating that she could become a suspect. Police have yet to make a recommendation about charges in the case.

Mr Netanyahu is accused of accepting almost $300,000 (Dh1.1m) in lavish gifts from Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan and Australian billionaire James Packer.

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In Case 3000, which may be even more explosive, several members of Netanyahu's inner circle have been named as suspects, questioned or arrested in what is said to be a corrupt multibillion-dollar submarine deal with Germany.

As it stands, PM's governing coalition partners stand by him, and await attorney-general's next steps.

Channel 10 news reported on Thursday that investigators are in possession of correspondence between Sara Netanyahu and Elovitch's wife that appear to implicate the prime minister's wife in the burgeoning scandal. In return, police say Netanyahu operated on Milchan's behalf on U.S. visa matters, legislated a tax break and connected him with an Indian businessman.

Case 2000 concerns allegations Netanyahu sought a deal with the owner of the Yediot Aharonot newspaper that would have seen it give him more favourable coverage.

Ari Harow, a former Netanyahu chief of staff, agreed to testify for the state in the case in exchange for leniency.

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  • Ryan Wade