Israel opposition urges PM to resign over bribery charges

Israel opposition urges PM to resign over bribery charges

In a joint statement with the Israel Securities Authority, Israeli police said that sufficient evidence was found to bring bribery charges against Netanyahu and his wife.

Prosecutors say Sara Netanyahu used state money to pay for $100,000 worth of meals at the prime minister's residence.

The newest police recommendation comes as his right-wing coalition's majority was reduced to just one seat in parliament, having enjoyed an nearly total dominance in Israeli politics.

When police initially said he should be charged, Netanyahu said it was an attempt by his opponents to unseat him through corruption allegations because they couldn't win at the ballot box.

Those relate to allegations that Netanyahu accepted gifts from businessmen and that he tried to strike a deal with a different media mogul for better coverage in return for curbs on a competing newspaper.

The other coalition partners have previously deferred bolting, saying they would await a formal decision by Israel's attorney general to press charges.

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The next legislative poll is scheduled for November 2019. Netanyahu holds a solid lead in all opinion polls, and a victory would make it more hard for Mandelblit to indict and potentially force out a newly re-elected leader.

His opponents called for him to resign as soon as possible in light of the allegations, which follow police recommendations last February to charge him in two other corruption cases, and yet another case against his wife for breach of public trust.

Sunday's recommendations involved Mr Netanyahu, Bezeq and the firm's largest shareholder, Mr Shaul Elovitch.

There is also enough evidence to charge the company's then-CEO, Stella Handler, with fraud, the statement said. Elovitch's attorney, Jacques Chen, told the Ynet website that his client denied wrongdoing. They were both arrested and detained briefly earlier this year and have resigned from Bezeq.

Former journalists at the Walla news site have attested to being pressured to refrain from negative reporting of Netanyahu.

It's believed that Netanyahu fired Communications Ministry Director-General Avi Berger and hired his loyalist and ex-campaign manager Shlomo Filber in order to provide Elovitch and his companies special treatment.

Police say the investigation, which included the testimony of 60 witnesses, revealed that Netanyahu and Bezeq boss Shaul Elovitch engaged in a "bribe-based relationship".

"The police recommendations regarding me and my wife don't surprise anyone", Mr Netanyahu said in a statement.

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