What is Benjamin Netanyahu being charged with?

The main charges against the prime minister, after police recommended indictment for bribery.

On Tuesday, Israeli police recommended the indictment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for bribery.

This recommendation is at the more serious end of the spectrum of charges expected to be levelled against Netanyahu in two criminal investigations that have been ongoing for more than a year.

Netanyahu, who has denied wrongdoing and pledged to stay in office regardless, has been questioned several times by police since the start of 2017.

Here are the biggest charges that Israel’s police is accusing him of:

Case 1,000: Champagne and jewellery

  • Case 1,000 was the first one raised against Netanyahu in 2016.

  • In this case, according to leaks, Netanyahu accepted gifts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from wealthy businessmen. He allegedly offered his benefactors assistance in return.
  • Arnon Milchan, an Israeli billionaire and Hollywood film producer, is said to have sent Netanyahu cigars and champagne.

  • In exchange, reports say, Netanyahu successfully lobbied John Kerry on behalf of Milchan for a 10-year US visa.

  • Netanyahu is also suspected of accepting gifts from wealthy Australian billionaire James Packer as he tried to gain permanent residency and tax status in Israel.

  • Police allege that Netanyahu received champagne, cigars, jewellery and clothing valued at around $280,000.

  • Netanyahu does not deny accepting the gifts, but denies claims he returned any favours.

Case 2,000: Positive coverage

  • In the second case, police allege that Netanyahu tried to strike a deal with the country’s second-largest newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth.
  • Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes reportedly offered favourable coverage to help Netanyahu stay in power and even suggested that his company would hire journalists of the prime minister’s choosing.
  • In return, Mozes is said to have asked Netanyahu to promote legislation to end the free distribution of a popular rival daily, Israel Hayom, forcing it to become a paid-for title.
  • Responding to the allegations, Netanyahu says he never intended to seal any real deal with Mozes.


 Case 3,000: ‘Submarine affair’

  • Netanyahu was not directly named as a suspect in this case, but his confidants were.
  • This investigation involves alleged corruption in Israel’s purchase of of German submarines and naval attack vessels from Germany’s ThyssenKrupp worth $2bn, his cousin and personal lawyer David Shimron is involved.
  • David Sharan, Netanyahu’s former bureau chief, was arrested on suspicion of accepting bribes as well as lobbying Israeli defence ministry officials.

  • Moshe Yaalon, former defence minister, claimed that Netanyahu attempted to facilitate the deal by urging the cancellation of a previous tender.
  • Netanyahu has denied those allegations. 

Case 4,000: Bezeq and Communications Ministry ties 

  • Netanyahu is not a suspect in this case, although the attorney general could take action with respect to apparently “false declarations”.

  • Netanyahu’s associate Shlomo Filber, director-general of Israel’s communications ministry, is accused of providing Bezeq, the national telephone company, with favourable treatment. 
  • The report also said that Netanyahu did not disclose his friendship with Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder of Bezeq.

  • Netanyahu said that he and Elovitch were little more than acquaintances, but in an earlier statement in court he also said they have been friends for 20 years. Netanyahu allegedly made false statements.


  • In recent developments, seven new people have been arrested and accussed of fast-tracking permissions for communications giant Bezeq in return for favourable news coverage from one of its websites.

  • Shaul Elovitch, a family friend of Netanyahu, who controls the telecoms firm Bezeq, was arrested along with his wife, his son and Bezeq’s CEO Stella Handler.

  • Nir Hefetz, former Netanyahu spokesman, and Shlomo Filber, former communications ministry director-general, both known as close confidants of the prime minister, were also arrested.

  • According to Haaretz, Schlomo Filber has agreed to turn state’s witness admiting to have received explicit instructions from Netanyahu to help Bezeq. This could pose a serious threat to the leader’s political survival.

The first lady 

  • Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Netanyahu, has been questioned by police over allegations of using public funds for private expenses.
  • The first lady is accused of fraudulently diverting some $100,000 of the public purse to pay for private chefs at family events, furnish and improve their private home in Caesarea, and to pay for the personal care of her father.

Source: Al Jazeera