Israel Police Recommend Charging Prime Minister Netanyahu With Bribery in Two Cases

The Israeli police announced on Tuesday that there was sufficient evidence indicating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took bribes in two separate cases and acted "against public interests."

The two cases are the so-called Case 1000 in which Netanyahu is suspected of accepting lavish gifts from wealthy benefactors in return for advancing their interests and Case 2000, which alleges that Netanyahu tried to strike a deal that would have provided him with positive coverage in Israel's second largest newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, in exchange for hurting its free rival, Israel Hayom.

According to the police, in Case 1000, Netanyahu received champagne, cigars, jewelry and clothing, by demand and systematically, valued at over one million shekels (around $280,000). The gifts he received from the Israeli-American Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan increased significantly once Netanyahu was elected prime minister.

The police said that in return for the gifts, Netanyahu gave Milchan five specific benefits:

He pushed for the so-called Milchan Law, which gives tax breaks to Israelis returning to Israel after spending time abroad a break worth over million shekels for Milchan. Yair Lapid, who is now in the opposition but was Netanyahu's finance minister in the past, testified to this.

He assisted Milchan in extending his U.S. visa and set up a meeting between Milchan and the then-director general of the Communications Ministry to advance the producer's interests in the Israeli television market.

The prime minister also intervened to prevent the collapse of Israel's Channel 10 television, in which Milchan was a minority shareholder.

Netanyahu helped further a deal tied to India businessman Ratan Tata, who was Milchan's business partner. The police said that Netanyahu "pushed the deal even though officials in the Defense Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office opposed the project."

Australian billionaire James Packer was Milchan's partner but the police did not specify what benefits he may have received. The value of the gifts that Milchan gave to Netanyahu was 750,000 shekels, while those from Packer amounted to around 250,000 shekels. Packer began supplying gifts to Netanyahu from the time he and Milchan decided to divide the burden of the gift-giving between them.