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Corruption probe closes in on Israel's Netanyahu

Posted at 10:37 AM, Feb 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-08 10:37:35-05

JERUSALEM (CNN) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared his innocence in a Facebook video on Wednesday night as the possibility grows that an indictment could result from an ongoing corruption investigation.

He further questioned the integrity of the investigation in a Thursday Facebook post. Local media reports indicate Israeli police are set to recommend charges against the prime minister following a lengthy investigation.

Nonetheless, the Likud party leader is looking to get ahead of any announcement and reassure his supporters. Netanyahu said it was the job of Israel’s attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, and not police to determine if charges are appropriate.

“There will be nothing, because I know the truth,” Netanyahu said in Hebrew in the video. “The State of Israel is a nation of law. The law says that the person that decides if there is sufficient evidence against the prime minister is the attorney general, and he confers with the state attorney’s office.”

Netanyahu added many police recommendations go nowhere.

“The state attorney said recently in the Knesset that half the recommendations from the police end in nothing,” he said. “So, don’t be under pressure.”

The investigations center on two cases involving allegations of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. The first involves the prime minister allegedly receiving inappropriate gifts from a businessman, and the second involves allegations the prime minister colluded with the owner of a newspaper.

The second alleges Netanyahu was looking for more favorable coverage from Yedioth Ahronoth, one of Israel’s biggest papers. In return he offered to have the circulation of a rival, pro-Netanyahu paper reduced, presumably through influencing its owner, the U.S. businessman and conservative financier Sheldon Adelson.

Police have been investigating both cases for many months and have questioned the prime minister on multiple occasions. If they do recommend an indictment, it will then, as Netanyahu indicated in his Facebook post, be up to the attorney general to decide whether to move forward.

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