On Tuesday evening Israeli police told Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s legal counsel that they will be recommending that the Prime Minister be accused and tried for charges of fraud in both files that are open against him, known as file 1000 and file 2000.
The police publicized their formal recommendation just before 9:00PM Israel time. Once that happened the material gathered by the police was passed to the Attorney General’s office for examination. Additionally, the police also recommended that Yediot Acharonot publisher Arnon Mozes (involved in file 2000) and Arnon Milchin (File 1000) be tried for charges of fraud and bribery. The Prime Minister made a statement moments after the publication of the recommendations and called them hallucinatory and enraging.
Speaking on a live feed, ironically on Yediot Acharonot’s website, a stern-looking Netanyahu denied allegations that he accepted lavish gifts, including champagne and expensive cigars, from Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan in exchange for doing favors. He also is suspected of offering preferential treatment to a newspaper publisher in exchange for favorable coverage.
Netanyahu asked: “How it is possible that the police came to the conclusion that I was acting on behalf of Arnon Milchin and against the interests of the State of Israel for a bunch of cigars?” Netanyahu added that on numerous occasions, whether it was the closing of channel 10 or while he was working as the Finance Minister in Israel and took apart the monopoly of auto-industry parts in Israel, he worked directly against the interests on Milchin. Netanyahu admitted that he did help Milchin once with regards to a visa from the United States, but added that Former Prime Minister Shimon Peres did the same thing and that Netanyahu only did that because Milchin had helped protect the security of the State of Israel.
Regarding the second case Netanyahu again pointed to his previous actions in working against the interests of the person whom the police accuse him of helping. “When I disbanded the Knesset over the Israel Hayom law, and thus prevented the law from passing I worked directly against the interests of Arnon Mozes. I risked my own political career to stop this law from passing and work against Mozes’ interests. How can it be that the police would claim that I was working for his interests? Other members of the Knesset and even Ministers who voted for the bill who were working for Mozes’ interests and received wonderful praiseworthy coverage in Yediot Acharonot newspaper because of it, none of them are being investigated. But I, who worked against his interests, I am being investigated. It is an upside down world,” The Prime Minister added.
In closing Netanyahu reflected on his own status. “If I had been working for my own interests, I would be in a completely different place right now, not here. The only reason I do what I do is to protect the security of the people of Israel. Rrest assured that the proper legal authorities will see these recommendations as baseless. Our government will fill its mandate and last until the next round of elections, and we will keep building up our country to be the technological superpower that it is meant to be.”
Lawyers working fro Arnon Mozes said: “Mozes has a strong legal case standing for him and we believe that after the Attorney General’s office looks over the case – that all charges against him will be dropped, as it will become clear that he did not commit any crime. Relationships between members of the media and political figures, including politicians, is one of the pillars that a democratic country is based on. Painting this relationship, as complex and convoluted as it is, as a criminal affair, is a dangerous precedent.”
The High Court of Justice rejected a suit yesterday that had asked that the Minister of Internal Security instruct the police not to submit recommendations together with investigation files The rejection of this suit removed the final stumbling block in the way of the police from publishing their recommendations.
Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit instructed the police at the beginning of the week to defer the publication of their recommendations regarding cases involving the Prime Minister. This was due to the fact the High Court of Justice had not decided regarding the above-mentioned suit. Once that occurred the police were free to publish their recommendations.
The police recommendations now go to the attorney general, who will decide whether to press charges.
But Tuesday’s report is deeply embarrassing to Netanyahu and could fuel calls for him to step aside.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)