Israel’s attorney general unveiled charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in three separate corruption investigations on 21st of November, marking the first time in the country’s history that a sitting prime minister faces indictment in criminal investigations.
Netanyahu has proclaimed his innocence ever since the criminal investigations became public nearly three years ago. He and his allies have conducted a campaign to delegitimize the investigations since they were made public in January 2017. Characterizing the legal process as a media-fueled witch hunt, he has often promised:
There will be nothing because there is nothing.
But as the probes advanced and Netanyahu faced more than 10 rounds of questioning, the "nothing" he proclaimed turned out to be something quite something .
Case 4000: Quite Something !
Mandelblit who serves as the Attorney General of Israel, announced that he would pursue charges of bribery and breach of trust in February aftert the foundation of the criminal charges in a 57-page filing.Case 4000 is the most serious case where prosecutors say Netanyahu advanced regulatory benefits worth more than 1 billion shekels to his friend, millionaire Shaul Elovitch, who owned the Walla(News website) as part of his control of the Bezeq telecommunications company.In exchange, Netanyahu, who also served at that time as Israel’s Minister of Communications, received favorable news coverage on Walla as well as influence over the choice of stories and language used.Mandelblit added that the the relationship between Netanyahu and Elovitch was “intensive, frequent, and extraordinary,” and that relations involving the wives of the two men were at a similar level. In the other two cases against Netanyahu, known as Case 1000 and 2000, he faces two charges of fraud and breach of trust, one from each investigation.
In Case 1000, Netanyahu was accused of receiving gifts from overseas businessmen, including expensive cigars and champagne, which later turned into a supply line. The gifts were worth approximately $200,000. In particular, the gifts came from Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian businessman James Packer. “The deliveries of champagne were generally made at your wife’s request,” prosecutors wrote. “The deliveries of cigars were sometimes made at your request as well.”In return for the gifts, Netanyahu helped Milchan with visa applications to the United States, even asking then-Secretary of State John Kerry to intercede to make sure the visa was approved. Netanyahu also allegedly sought to pass tax amendments that would have benefited Milchan, even as Israel’s Finance Minister at the time expressed reservations about granting the exemption. Netanyahu has said he and his wife did nothing wrong and that the gifts were exchanges between friends.
In Case 2000, Netanyahu was accused of making a deal with Arnon “Noni” Mozes, the owner of Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, that would have seen Netanyahu receive more favorable coverage.In return, the Israeli leader would then pursue legislation that would limit the circulation of Yedioth Ahronoth’s rival, Israel HaYom. The largest newspaper in the country, Israel HaYom, is owned by Sheldon Adelson and is widely seen as a mouthpiece for Netanyahu.The attorney general decided not to pursue charges of bribery in Case 1000 and Case 2000.Netanyahu will now face growing calls from politicians and the public for him to resign. So far, he has refused any such demands.However, the charges are a blow to the political and personal future of the longest-serving prime minister, who has held office for more than 13 years in total.