ISRAEL’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is a suspect in two investigations into allegations of “fraud, breach of trust and bribes”, according to an Israeli police document produced in court.
The suspicions against Netanyahu, who denies any wrongdoing, were revealed in a court application by detectives seeking a gag order on reporting details of negotiations with his former chief of staff, Ari Harow, to become a state witness.
The confirmation of the seriousness of the allegations comes on the day after his wife, Sara, was again interviewed by police in a separate case relating to claims for household costs in the prime minister’s residence.
While the scope of the investigations in the so-called cases 1000 and 2000 – the first about gifts from wealthy benefactors and the second over attempts to sway media coverage – have long been known, it is the first time Netanyahu has been publicly designated as a suspect.
Netanyahu’s office denied the accusations and said investigators were trying to bring down his government. “We completely reject the unfounded claims made against the prime minister. The campaign to change the government is under way, but it is destined to fail, for a simple reason: there won’t be anything because there was nothing,” a statement said.
It comes as a third high profile corruption investigation – case 3000 – has focused on allegations of bribery within his inner circle over a deal to buy submarines from Germany.
The application for the gag order, made to the Rishon Lezion magistrate’s court in central Israel, followed the confirmation by Israel’s attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, earlier on Thursday that talks were under way with Harow, a close confidant of Netanyahu, to testify in exchange for leniency.