Jerusalem: A defiant Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was on Friday questioned by the police for the third time as a "possible criminal suspect" in a graft case for allegedly accepting valuable gifts from business figures and trying to trade favours with an Israeli newspaper.
67-year-old Netanyahu's interrogation by the police at his residence in Jerusalem is said to revolve around two criminal cases - the prime minister 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 a top Israeli publisher known as Case 2000.
The interrogation came a day after Netanyahu lambasted the media and rival politicians of trying "a coup attempt" through "undemocratic means". Israeli Police yesterday questioned Hebrew daily Yedioth
Ahronoth's publisher Arnon Mozes with whom Netanyahu held recorded conversations on advancing legislation that would reduce the pro-Netanyahu Israel Hayom daily’s circulation in exchange for more favourable coverage from Yedioth, the largest circulated daily in Israel.
Israel's Channel 10 reported earlier this week that police were likely to recommend indicting Netanyahu over the gifts he received from Milchan, with the case being in the most advanced stage.
Israel Radio reported that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is leaning toward a charge of breach of trust in the case, but not bribery. Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing and took to Facebook
yesterday to defend himself, accusing people from the media as well as politicians of exerting pressure on Mendelblit and law enforcement officials in an attempt to oust his government.
"The cat's out of the bag," he wrote claiming that media figures and politicians are trying to apply pressure to have him indicted 'at any price'. He also called the effort an "undemocratic attempt" at
The Israeli Premier on Wednesday addressed the Knesset's (Israeli parliament) "Question Time" and made comments in a similar vein, speaking of the efforts as "persecution" and a "show of hypocrisy".
"I have news for you," Netanyahu said adding, "I will continue to lead the State of Israel for many more years to come for the citizens of Israel, the State of Israel and the Jewish people."
Netanyahu also noted that he was "not the first" political leader to have meetings with media publishers, and not the first "to have wealthy friends".
He declined a number of questions in the Knesset on whether he will resign if indicted in one of the two criminal investigations currently opened against him, and on whether gifts he received from businessman Milchan or his relationship with lawyer Shimron constituted conflicts of interest.
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Updated Date: Jan 27, 2017 16:24:19 IST