Detectives from the Israel Police anti-corruption unit arrived at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Jerusalem office on Friday morning, to question him as part of two ongoing investigations into alleged graft.
Friday’s interrogation session with officers from the Lahav 433 unit was to revolve around two criminal cases: Netanyahu and his family’s dealings with billionaire benefactors, including Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan — known as Case 1000; and his negotiations for a suspected quid pro quo deal with the publisher of Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, Arnon Mozes, known as Case 2000.
Taking to social media on Thursday, Netanyahu railed against the whole affair, calling it essentially an “attempt at a coup.”
Mozes, who was questioned by police for a sixth time Thursday, held recorded conversations with the prime minister on advancing legislation that would reduce the pro-Netanyahu Israel Hayom daily’s circulation in exchange for more favorable coverage from Yedioth. No such deal was implemented.
Channel 10 reported Wednesday that police were likely to recommend indicting Netanyahu over the gifts he received from Milchan, with the case being in the most advanced stage of the multiple investigations into him. The report indicated the investigation will likely be concluded in the coming weeks.
Israel Radio reported that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is leaning toward a charge of breach of trust in the case, but not bribery.
There has been no formal confirmation of plans for indictments. Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing.
Netanyahu has been largely defiant in the face of the investigations, of which there are two more.
In Case 3000 — the so-called submarine affair Netanyahu’s personal lawyer David Shimron is suspected of swaying multi-billion shekel deals in favor of German shipbuilding company ThyssenKrupp, which he represented in Israel. Police are considering investigating Netanyahu as a criminal suspect.
There are no known details of the fourth affair, known as Case 4000.
On Thursday, Netanyahu took to Facebook to complain of the “pressure inflicted by the media and [some] politicians on the attorney general and law enforcement to file an indictment at any cost against the prime minister.
“This is an attempt to carry out a coup, in a non-democratic way,” he wrote.
The probes have fueled speculation that, should Netanyahu be indicted, his governing coalition could collapse and force new elections.
But Justice Minister Ayalet Shaked, from the Jewish Home party, noted that a replacement for Netanyahu could be found within the coalition.
In an interview with Army Radio, Shaked said Thursday that it was “not possible that the country be shaken every couple of years by national elections.”
In the case of an indictment of the prime minister, “the coalition is strong,” she said, indicating there were discussions underway within the government on an alternative to Netanyahu if necessary.