Thursday, December 2, 2021

Israel’s Netanyahu grilled for sixth time in graft probe


JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was questioned by police for a sixth time on Sunday over two suspected cases of corruption, media reports said.

Netanyahu is suspected of having received luxury gifts from wealthy supporters, including Israeli businessman and Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.

Milchan, a long-time friend of Netanyahu, reportedly sent him boxes of expensive cigars and other items worth tens of thousands of dollars. The producer was himself questioned in September.

Channel Two TV said that detectives arrived at the premier’s official Jerusalem residence shortly after 4:00 pm (1400 GMT) Sunday.

It was their second visit in 10 days, after Netanyahu was questioned for about four hours on November 9.

In addition to suspicions that the gifts constituted bribery, the police also suspect that he sought a secret pact for favourable coverage with the publisher of the top-selling Yediot Aharonot newspaper.

The alleged deal, not believed to have been finalised, would have seen Netanyahu receive favourable coverage in return for helping curb Yediot’s competitor, the pro-Netanyahu freesheet Israel Hayom.

Netanyahu has consistently denied any wrongdoing, and says he has been the target of a campaign by political opponents.

Police would not confirm the reports of the latest questioning, which was widely reported by Israeli media on Sunday.

Earlier this month, Netanyahu confidants Yitzhak Molcho and David Shimron, partners in a law firm and both relatives of the premier, were questioned by police as part of a probe into suspected corruption around the purchase of German submarines.

Netanyahu himself has not been named as a suspect in the submarine case.

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