UPDATE – Police recommend bribery charges against Israeli PM

UPDATES WITH NETANYAHU’S COMMENT

JERUSALEM (AA) – Israeli police on Sunday recommended indicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife for bribery, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

In a statement, police said Netanyahu is suspected of taking bribes and acting while in conflict of interests when he awarded favors to media mogul Shaul Elovitch, who controlled Israel’s telecom company Bezeq Telecom Israel, in return for favorable coverage on the company’s news site.

Police said it found evidence that "Netanyahu and those close to him bluntly intervened, sometimes on a daily basis, with the content being published on the Walla news website, and sought to influence the appointment of senior employees (editors and reporters), while using their ties to Shaul and [his wife] Iris Elovitch."

Police have already recommended indictment against Netanyahu for corruption in two other cases.

The first case involves Israeli Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, who was allegedly asked to purchase luxury items for Netanyahu and his wife.

The second relates to an alleged deal — again for favorable media coverage — with Arnon Mozes, publisher of Hebrew-language daily Yedioth Ahronoth.

Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing.

In a statement on Sunday, the Israeli premier said the police recommendation to indict him and his wife "don't surprise anyone, nor does the transparent timing of the announcement."

"These recommendations were decided on and leaked even before the investigations began," he said.

"The police recommendations have no legal standing. Only recently, authorized officials totally rejected police recommendations regarding a number of public figures. I am certain that the authorized officials, after considering the matters, will reach the same conclusion in this case as well — that there was nothing because there is nothing."

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