Israel Braces For “Earth Shattering” Indictments Against Netanyahu

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As Israeli police conclude their corruption investigation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former advisor to the force, Lior Chorev, says the indictments to follow will be “earth-shattering” and will result in early elections – possibly as soon as May 2018, which would end the political career of the longest-serving Israeli leader since founding father David Ben-Gurion. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

Chorev, who resigned last month under pressure from Netanyahu’s allies, told The Jerusalem Post “When they [the recommendations] will be announced, they will have information such as the specific charges and a complete list of the people involved,” he said, adding “Netanyahu is not running a campaign for his innocence but a campaign to keep the coalition intact. It is a political campaign, not a legal one, and so far he is succeeding. He is keeping his coalition in one piece despite very complicated investigations.”

The indictment recommendations will bear “a lot of information that we didn’t know – and it will cause an earthquake here.” 

While police recommendations in Israel aren’t binding, and prosecutors can choose to proceed with indictments, an official recommendation to indict would turn Israel’s political landscape on its head. Netanyahu has been questioned seven times by investigators in connection with two corruption cases.

In the first, he’s suspected of receiving tens of thousands of dollars worth of cigars and champagne from wealthy friends. In the other case, Netanyahu is accused of offering to pass legislation favorable to a newspaper publisher in exchange for favorable coverage, however the bill never passed. Another case involving bribery related to the purchase of submarines from Germany does not involve Netanyahu, however at least two of his confidants are under investigation for suspicion of wrongdoing. 

Israel police claims that Chorev, as an external investigator, wouldn’t have access to information on the Netanyahu investigation: 

“In these sensitive subjects, the Israel Police is providing information to the public via official statements that are released in accordance with the attorney-general and the state’s attorney,” the police said. “We are asking the public to focus only on official statement… Not once was the police blamed for leaking information by ‘different entities,’ but what they said was completely false.”

In response to the police wrap-up, Netanyahu’s allies in parliament are pushing through a bill that would forbid police from submitting written recommendations to the state prosecutor’s office on whether to indict a suspect – in what critics are calling a tool to silence investigators and interfere with police work.

“It’s ludicrous legislation because there’s no precedent for legislating those two complementing law enforcement agencies,” said Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute research center, referring to police and prosecutors. “There’s no logic to it unless one wants to create some sort of deterrence vis-a-vis the police.” –Bloomberg

Relations between Netanyahu and police have grown sour throughout the investigations, nearly a year after they became public knowledge. As Bloomberg reports, the prime minister and his supporters have accused police of deliberately leaking information about the investigations to Israeli media, claiming he’s the target of an organized campaign by the press and left-wing opponents to unseat him. Thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets in recent weekends, rallying against government corruption and calling on Netanyahu to step down.

Sara Netanyahu

Meanwhile, Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, is mired in three legal disputes; two involving the receipt of illegal gifts and favors from businessmen in exchange for advancing their interests. In another case, Mrs. Netanyahu is accused of fraudulently receiving some $100,000 for her participation in a scam to order meals at Israel’s expense without authorization. 

According to a Justice Ministry announcement, between 2010 and 2013, Sara Netanyahu colluded with Seidoff “to create a false impression that the prime minister’s official residence on Balfour Street in Jerusalem does not employ a cook, despite the fact that throughout the entire period they employed cooks.” This was done, allegedly, to bypass a procedure that forbids ordering meals from restaurants and hiring chefs who cook at the residence when cooks are on hand. –Jewishpress.com

In a third case, 24 year old Shira Raban claims that Netanyahu incessantly insulted her while she worked for a cleaner at their residence for one month. Raban is seeking $64,000 for “verbal abuse and unreasonable requests” by Sara Netanyahu, and says she feared for her safety. Netanyahu allegedly forbade Raban from eating, drinking or resting, and required that she change her clothes dozens of times per day. Raban claims she was also required to wash her hands about 100 times a day with hot water, drying them on a separate towel from the Netanyahu family. 

Several other former employees have claimed mistreatment by Sara Netanyahu, with one caretaker receiving an award of around $43,000 last year for mistreatment.