Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should be indicted in two corruption cases, police recommended on Tuesday, ramping up pressure on the leader who has served more than a decade in office.
After months of investigations, Israeli police handed over their recommendations to Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Tuesday evening.
Netanyahu maintained his innocence in a televised address to the nation on Tuesday night.
The first case, referred to as Case 1000, details gifts that the prime minister and his wife, Sara, are suspected of receiving from billionaire benefactors such as Australian James Packer and Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchen.
In a detailed statement, police said Packer and Milchan “over years awarded gifts of various types”, including champagne, cigars and jewellery, to Netanyahu and his family.
In all, the gifts were worth more than one million shekels (AUD$360,000), the statement said.
Netanyahu’s lawyers have said the presents were simply tokens of friendship and no quid pro quo was given.
The other case, 2000, involves deals made between Netanyahu and Arnon Mozes, publisher of popular Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth. According to information leaked to the Israeli press, the deal apparently would have allowed the prime minister to receive more favourable coverage from the newspaper if he agreed to weaken the status of rival daily newspaper Israel Hayom, owned by US casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.
The police announcement will increase pressure on Netanyahu to resign, though he has given no indication that he plans to do so, adopting a combative tone as the investigations have circled closer to him.
He has repeatedly attacked the police, accusing them of being politically motivated and attempting to stage a coup.
That tension has ramped up over the past week amid leaks that police were preparing to recommend an indictment.
Netanyahu released a Facebook video telling his supporters not to worry and stating his often-repeated mantra: “There is nothing.” It will be up to the attorney general to decide whether to indict him, he said, pointing out that many police recommendations for indictments go nowhere.