Prime Minister Netanyahu To Face Final Round of Questioning in Bezeq Corruption Investigation

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to face a final round of questioning today in the so-called “Bezeq” (also known as “Case 4000”) corruption investigation, according to the Times of Israel.  The Bezeq investigation is one of four corruption investigations by Israeli police in which the Prime Minister is either a target or a suspect:

  • “Case 1000”: In this investigation, the Prime Minister allegedly “’systematically’ demand[ed] benefits worth about NIS 1 million ($282,000) from billionaire benefactors, including [Israeli businessman and film producer] Arnon Milchan and Australian resort owner James Packer, in exchange for favors.”
  • “Case 2000”: In this investigation, the Prime Minister allegedly had an “illicit quid-pro-quo deal . . . [with] Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes that would have seen the prime minister weaken a rival daily, the [American businessman] Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.”
  • “Case 3000”: In this investigation, Israeli state officials allegedly “were paid bribes to influence a decision to purchase four patrol boats and three Dolphin-class submarines costing a total of 2 billion euros from German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp, despite opposition to the deal by the Defense Ministry.” Although the Prime Minister has given testimony in this investigation, both Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and Israeli police have stated that the Prime Minister is not a suspect in the case.
  • “Case 4000”: In this investigation, the Times reported that “[i]nvestigators suspect Netanyahu advanced regulatory decisions benefiting Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder in Bezeq, the country’s largest telecommunications firm — despite opposition from the Communication Ministry’s career officials — in exchange for positive coverage from Elovitch’s Walla news site.”

Israeli police reportedly are leaning toward recommending indictment of the Prime Minister in Case 4000.  In June 2018 testimony before a Knesset Committee, however, Attorney General Mandelblit said that police recommendations to indict the Prime Minister on bribery charges in both cases 1000 and 2000 “would ‘absolutely not’ necessarily lead to indictments.”   He explained that investigations of this complexity take time, and that the Case 4000 investigation had caused reexamination of the previous cases.

The Times also reported that Attorney General Mandelblit, who will make the final decision whether to indict the Prime Minister, “intends to examine all three cases [1000, 2000, and 4000] at the same time — which will be possible only after he receives the state attorney’s conclusions on the three cases.  That is likely to happen only rather late in 2019, possibly after the next Knesset elections — currently slated for November 2019 but which may very well be held earlier.”

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