By Azania Post Reporter
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing lawsuit on suspicion of bribery, breach of trust and fraud, effectively casting the future of his government into doubt.
The announcement from the country’s police after an investigation that lasted for a year, was made on Tuesday.
The decision to prosecute him rests with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who is expected to review the findings of the police and make a decision within weeks.
Netanyahu has been a dominant force in Israel politics for the last decade.
"There will be nothing, because there's nothing there," the 68-year-old prime minister said in a televised address Tuesday. "With God's help," he said, he expects to overcome "yet another attack from my enemies" and be re-elected next year.
Outlining a public career going back three decades, he said that everything he has done has been for the sake of the country, "not for cigars from friends and not for improved media coverage," as has been alleged.
Following that speech, Miri Regev, the culture minister and a close ally, argued that Netanyahu could remain prime minister even if indicted and advised reporters "to take it easy and keep things in proportion."
But in a clear sign of the political landscape Netanyahu must now navigate, none of his coalition partners came to his defense.
With his Likud party holding only 30 out of 120 parliamentary seats, Netanyahu rules a delicate coalition of 61 legislators. Three senior members of his Cabinet — the ministers of defense, finance and education — each chair their own political parties and consider themselves possible successors to Netanyahu.
The police recommendation Tuesday concerns two cases against the prime minister.
In one case, Netanyahu is suspected of offering Arnon Mozes, the publisher of a popular Israeli tabloid, a wide range of improper benefits in exchange for positive coverage.
In the other, dubbed "Case 1000," he is accused using his position to help several prominent friends, including Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian businessman James Packer, in exchange for Cuban cigars, French champagne and other gifts worth more than $3,000. In that case alone, police said they have 180 witnesses.
The police also called for the indictments of Milchan and Mozes, on charges of graft. Both men have denied the allegations.
The police said the prime minister attempted to double the length of a 10-year tax exemption for expatriate Israelis, "a benefit with great economic benefit for Milchan," an Israeli citizen who has spent most of the last two decades in California.
Yair Lapid, the finance minister at the time, blocked the proposal as fiscally unsound and not in the interests of the state. Netanyahu fired him in December 2014.