Police question Netanyahu for five hours over corruption

Police question Netanyahu for five hours over corruption

The prime minister repeated his stance that the investigations would lead to nothing and thanked Israeli citizens for their support.

Police recommended last month that Mr Netanyahu be indicted in two other corruption investigations. The company has denied wrongdoing.

"In a Facebook video posted shortly after the interrogations concluded, Netanyahu, speaking for himself and his wife, proclaimed their innocence, saying, "(I am) more certain than even there will be nothing".

On Saturday the prime minister leaves on a week-long diplomatic trip to the United States, where he will attend the annual policy conference of pro-Israel lobby AIPAC and meet with US President Donald Trump.

It is the first time that Netanyahu, who as prime minister also held the communications portfolio until a year ago, is being questioned over the affair, known as Case 4,000.

A final case, dubbed 3000, is being investigated separately and has involved Netanyahu allies, but the prime minister has not been named as a suspect.

His wife is thought to have also applied pressure on media mogul's wives to convince them to change their organisations' reporting.

A representative for Mr Elovitch had no immediate comment and Mr Hefetz's lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.

Netanyahu's personal lawyer and one of his closest confidants, David Shimron, reportedly represented the German company behind the submarine contract.

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This is the third, and possibly most serious, corruption case so far involving Netanyahu, Israel's longest-serving prime minister.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, a member of the ultranationalist party Jewish Home, said that according to the law, Netanyahu can stay in the job through the end of his trial.

There were a few dozen protesters, singing songs and banging plastic pipes on garbage cans.

Some drivers touted their horns in support as they drove by.

"A prime minister under investigation can not, and may not, take crucial decisions", said Shuki Cohen, 63, an economist from Moshav Arugot. That decision could be weeks or months away.

Mr Netanyahu is accused of accepting almost $300,000 (Dh1.1m) in lavish gifts from Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan and Australian billionaire James Packer. In return, police say Netanyahu operated on Milchan's behalf on USA visa matters, legislated a tax break and connected him with an Indian businessman. The other investigation involves the so-called "Yediot Aharonot affair", in which Netanyahu allegedly reached an agreement with the publisher of a newspaper to receive favorable coverage, in exchange for supporting a bill to weaken a competitor of that paper.

If investigators discover a promise for favorable coverage, Sarah Netanyahu could be charged.

Netanyahu could also call a snap election to try to stall legal proceedings during the campaign and rally his right-wing power base behind him. Recent polls show Netanyahu's Likud ahead of other factions in the Knesset.

Police believe that Mr Netanyahu directed his aides to intervene on behalf... In the meantime, Netanyahu is not obligated to resign and has indicated he will fight the charges while remaining in office.

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