Israeli police chiefs will recommend to the country’s attorney general that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted on corruption charges, according to reports in local media.
The Times of Israel reported Wednesday that police chiefs, including the general commissioner of Israel’s police force, were in “unanimous agreement” that Netanyahu should be indicted for allegedly accepting bribes and receiving lavish gifts from wealthy benefactors, including Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.
Any recommendation for an indictment would be sent to Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who will decide whether to indict the prime minister.
In a Facebook video Netanyahu acknowledged that the police would likely move to recommend his indictment, but dismissed the allegations against him and predicted Mandelblit would not move to press charges.
“The State of Israel is a state of law. The law says that the one to determine whether there is evidence against the prime minister is the attorney general and he consults with the state attorney. The state prosecutor recently said in the Knesset that about half of the police’s recommendations end with nothing,” Netanyahu said Wednesday.
“So do not be nervous … I am sure that at the end of the day the competent legal bodies will come to one conclusion, to the simple truth: There is nothing,” he added.
Netanyahu’s current tenure as Israel’s prime minister began in 2009; he previously held the office from 1996 to 1999. He was reelected in 2015 with just over 23 percent of the vote share, with his Likud party winning 30 seats in Israel’s parliament.
The right-leaning Israeli leader is a top ally of President Trump, who last year declared that the U.S. would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The move was widely popular with Netanyahu and Israelis, but inflamed tensions with Palestine and Arab countries across the Middle East.
Netanyahu maintains innocence as Israeli police edge closer to indicting PM for corruption
Netanyahu has been under investigation for allegedly taking bribes from campaign contributors in exchange for political favors since August. The Prime Minister is also suspected of seeking to strike a deal with a major Israeli newspaper in exchange for favorable political coverage.
On Wednesday Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh met with other top brass Israeli police chiefs to discuss Netanyahu’s cases as they near consensus to formally indict the Prime Minister. Investigators believe they’ve gathered enough evidence to prove Netanyahu is guilty of receiving bribes. However, before an official indictment recommendation is made to the State Attorney’s Office, the police team will examine the remaining “holes” in the case, Israeli media report.
Netanyahu, who has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and called the investigation a political attack orchestrated by the opposition, addressed his followers in a video posted on his Facebook account.
“Many of you ask, What will happen? So I want to reassure you: There will be nothing because I know the truth,” Netanyahu said in his Hebrew video address.
“So do not be nervous … There may be recommendations, or signs saying ‘Bibi is guilty until proven innocent’ or other improper pressures. But I am certain that at the end of the day, the qualified legal authorities will reach a single conclusion, the simple truth: there is nothing,” Netanyahu said.
If charged, the 68-year-old can still remain in office until the court reaches a verdict. But Netanyahu would face a devoted opposition which will likely demand his resignation or call for a nationwide referendum to determine whether or not the Prime Minister is fit to serve the remainder of his term. If Netanyahu serves his fourth mandate, which expires on July 16, 2019, in full, he will tie with David Ben-Gurion to become the longest-serving Prime Minister in Israel’s history.