Investigations involving Benjamin Netanyahu
During Benjamin Netanyahu's fourth premiership, a number of alleged corruption scandals have been investigated involving Netanyahu and his close political circle. The Israel Police began investigating Netanyahu starting in December 2016. The investigations, which involve prominent Israeli businessmen, ministers, and journalists, are ongoing. Police have already recommended indictments against Netanyahu in two cases and are investigating a third.
The first of the investigations, dubbed "Case 1000" opened officially in December 2016. This investigations looked into valuable presents and gifts received by Netanyahu, and his family throughout the years from several known wealthy acquaintances of the family.
- "Case 2000" deals with recorded conversations PM Netanyahu had with the publisher of Yedioth Ahronoth, one of the largest newspapers in circulation in Israel. During these conversations Netanyahu is believed to have proposed to push legislation harming Yedioth's major competitor, Israel Hayom, in exchange for more flattering and positive coverage of himself in Yedioth.
- "Case 3000" does not directly involve Netanyahu, as it involves a list of business men, lawyers, and officials in the security organizations in Israel, and their connection to a deal made between Israel and Germany in what may be a bribed deal, for the purchase of three Dolphin-class submarines and four Sa'ar 6-class corvette warships. Some of these individuals are related to Netanyahu due to professional or family ties.
- "Case 4000" regards telecommunications company Bezeq's relationship with its regulator, the communication ministry (Netanyahu being the minister until February 2017), and favorable coverage to Netanyahu in Walla!.
- Case "1270" is an offshoot of "4000" and involves an alleged appointment bribe offer to an Attorney General of Israel candidate in exchange for dropping a case against Netanyahu's wife.
- Police have recommended Netanyahu be charged by the attorney general in "1000" and "2000". Netanyahu is a suspect in "1270" and "4000". As of February 2018 Netanyahu is not a suspect in "3000".
Netanyahu is currently being investigated for receiving valuable gifts from several billionaires, most notably James Packer, and Arnon Milchan. The investigation centers around expensive cigars, champagne, and jewelry for Netanyahu's wife Sara costing hundreds of thousands of shekels. The family's claim is that these were justified gifts between friends. The police is investigating if anything was given in exchange for these gifts. Another report cites the price being upwards of one million shekels.
Case 1270 is the suspicion that Netanyahu's former media advisor offered District Court president Hila Gerstel an appointment to the vacated Attorney General of Israel in exchange for closing a case against Netanyahu's wife, an offer Gerstel refused. The case has been compared to the "Bar-On Hebron affair" in 1997, during Netanyahu's first term, involving the appointment of Roni Bar-On to attorney general.
The two largest newspapers in circulation in Israel are: Yedioth Ahronoth, and Israel Hayom. Israel Hayom is owned (either directly or indirectly) by Sheldon Adelson, a personal friend and benefactor of Netanyahu. Given this relationship Israel Hayom is often criticized by the political left saying that the newspaper is biased and portrays Netanyahu in an often unfairly positive light. Meanwhile, Yedioth is considered to not be politically affiliated with Netanyahu, and he and his cabinet members have often criticized the paper's journalists of being unfairly negative towards Netanyahu. Netanyahu and the Editor of Yedioth, Arnon "Noni" Moses held recorded conversations between the two of them, with Netanyahu offering to push legislation that would harm Yedioth's main competitor, Israel Hayom. In turn Moses would hire journalists more to Netanyahu's liking, who would steer the general stance of the paper to one that is more favorable to Netanyahu.
Three Dolphin-class submarine and four Sa'ar 6-class corvette were purchased from the German company ThyssenKrupp by Israel. The suspicion in this case refers to swaying the deal in ThyssenKrup's favor for the personal gain of several of the people involved. Netanyahu is not a suspect in Case 3000, though his cousin and personal lawyer David Shimron, who also represented the German company in Israel, is one of the main suspects.
Case 4000 involves the communication conglomerate Bezeq. The investigation is checking whether there were relations between members of Netanyahu's staff and high end officials at Bezeq, and if there were falsehoods in regards to paperwork leading to favorable business dealings with said officials as well as possible favorable reporting to Netanyahu by Walla!.
The Israeli Police recommended on 2 December 2018 that bribery charges be brought against Netanyahu and his wife, though the final decision of whether to indict rests with Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.
Several events have followed the investigations as they had widespread implications. As of September 2017, protesters have held Sunday rallies in Petah Tikva for 41 consecutive weeks to protest what they claim as interference with the investigations by the Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit. After many weeks of one sided protests, supporters of Netanyahu (mainly Likud party members) organized counter protests. In early August 2017, leader of the coalition David Bitan began calling to arms the members of the Likud party, first in the form of the counter protests in Petach Tikva, later by threatening any party member who won't stand behind Netanyahu of "getting even" in the next primary season, and finally in a large rally to show support. The rally was held in Tel Aviv and had a wide showing of the majority of the Knesset members from the Likud party. During the rally Netanyahu gave a controversial speech, accusing the media of being a part of a left wing coalition and plotting against not only him, but the entire right wing. Opponents of Netanyahu argued that this was baseless, first because he is being investigated personally, as opposed to the entire Likud party, and because both Roni Alsheikh (Chief of the Israeli Police) and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit were appointed by Netanyahu himself.
On 19 December 2018, Israeli State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan recommended to Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit that Netanyahu be indicted. On 20 December 2018, Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said he would "work quickly" on the case but "not at the expense of quality decisions and professionalism".
High court ruling and indictment
On 28 February 2019, the Israeli High Court of Justice rejected a motion filed by Netanyahu's Likud Party to stall the planned indictment. The same day, Mandelblit announced that he had accepted police recommendations to indict Netanyahu on three of the charges and that the indictment will officially go into effect following a hearing.
- Heller, Jeffrey (13 February 2018). "Israeli police recommend bribery charges against Netanyahu". Reuters. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
- Judy Maltz (5 September 2017). "Explainer All the Scandals Involving Netanyahu, and Where They Stand". Haaretz. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
- Eli Senyor (20 February 2018). "Two suspected of offering bribes to close case against PM's wife". Ynet. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
- Revital Hovel; Gidi Weitz; Josh Breiner (20 February 2018). "Netanyahu Confidant Suspected of Offering Judge Top Post to Nix Case Against Sara Netanyahu". Haaretz. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
- Udi Shaham; Yonah Jeremy Bob (18 February 2018). "Netanyahu said to be called in for questioning in 'Bezeq case 4000'". Ynetnews. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
- Raoul Wootliff (3 December 2018). "Police recommend bribery charges against Netanyahu in telecom-media Case 4000". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
- "Anti-corruption protests continue for 38th week outside AG's home". Ynetnews. 8 December 2017. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
- Alexander Fulbright (2 September 2017). "Protesters call for PM to resign after Netanyahu derides anti-corruption demos". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
- "Netanyahu delivers fiery speech at rally". Associated Press. 20 August 2017. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
- Jack Gold (20 December 2018). "Israel State Prosecutor's Office recommends Netanyahu indictment". World Israel News. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
- Gil Hoffman (20 December 2018). "Mandelblit: We aren't pursuing the prime minister". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
- "High Court nixes Likud bid to halt AG recommendations on Netanyahu graft probes". Ynetnews. 28 February 2019.
- Yonah Jeremy Bob (28 February 2019). "High Court rejects Likud petition to delay Mandelblit indictment decision". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
- "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be indicted for corruption". Associated Press. 28 February 2019.