Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister, demands confrontation with state witnesses
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected corruption charges in a live address. (AP: Gali Tibbon)
Police recommend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted on bribery charges
In what was billed as a “dramatic announcement,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used a prime-time address to again dismiss a series of corruption allegations against him.
- Israel PM faces possible indictment ahead of upcoming election
- Three ex-confidants have agreed to provide evidence against him
- Mr Netanyahu demanded a confrontation with state witnesses
Announcing on Twitter three hours beforehand that he would make a “special announcement” on Israeli TV, Mr Netanyahu — now in his fourth term — touched off a wave of social media speculation that he might resign or even launch legal action of his own to try to stay any indictment.
Mr Netanyahu, who is set to contest an upcoming election under the shadow of possible corruption charges, demanded to confront the state’s witnesses against him.
He said it would be “unjust” for him to be indicted ahead of early elections called for April 9.
He contended he was a victim of a political “witch hunt” and said he was being denied the chance to challenge his accusers face-to-face.
“I demand a confrontation with the state’s witnesses now. What are they afraid of? What do they have to hide?” he said.
“I am not afraid and I have nothing to hide … as far as I am concerned it can be broadcast live, so the public can see and hear it.”
Police have recommended that Mr Netanyahu be indicted in three corruption cases.
At least three ex-confidants have agreed to provide evidence against him, Israeli media reports said.
Last month, police recommended indicting Mr Netanyahu on bribery charges, saying they believed he had used his connections with the controlling shareholder of Israel’s telecom giant, Bezeq, to promote regulatory changes worth hundreds of millions of dollars in exchange for positive press coverage on Bezeq’s popular news site Walla.
Police said they believed there was sufficient evidence to charge Mr Netanyahu and his wife Sara with accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust.
Stella Handler, former chief executive of Bezeq, was detained earlier in 2018 amid fraud allegations. (Reuters: Ronen Zvulun)
Police have also recommended indicting Mr Netanyahu on corruption charges in two other cases.
One involves accepting gifts from billionaire friends, and the second revolves around alleged offers of advantageous legislation for a major newspaper in return for favourable coverage.
Mr Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing, and has said he would not give up his re-election campaign or resign his office if charged.