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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's annual policy conference at the Washington Convention Center March 6, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's annual policy conference at the Washington Convention Center March 6, 2018 in Washington, DC. With thousands of delegates and attendees, the annual AIPAC conference is the the largest gathering of the pro-Israel movement in the United States. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Netanyahu Faces Another Possible Indictment for Bribe to Get Glowing Media Coverage

Police say Israeli prime minister "intervened in a blatant and ongoing manner" in coverage at a news website

Andrea Germanos

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing calls to resign after Israeli police on Sunday recommended indicting him and his wife on fraud and bribery charges.

It's the third such recommendation to hit the prime minister this year.

The New York Times lays out the alleged wrongdoing:

Between 2012 and 2017, the police said, Mr. Netanyahu "intervened in a blatant and ongoing manner, and sometimes even daily," in coverage at Walla, a news website owned by [telecommunications company] Bezeq, ensuring "flattering articles and pictures" were published and "removing critical content" about him and his family.

The police said Mr. Netanyahu and his associates sought to sway Walla's hiring of senior editors and reporters. In return, the police said, Mr. Netanyahu, who personally oversaw the communications ministry from 2014 to 2017, rewarded Bezeq with enormously lucrative concessions, including approval of its merger with Yes, a satellite television company, despite the objections of lower-level ministry officials.

It's up to the attorney general whether to indict.

The other two corruption scandals involve bribery as well. In one, "Netanyahu is suspected of receiving gifts worth at least a million shekels ($270,000; £210,000) from Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan and other supporters," the BBC reports. The other also involves bribing a newspaper, this time Yediot Aharonot, for positive coverage.

The new case, however, "is the most serious of all those of which Netanyahu has been accused," the Associated Press reports:

Two of his top confidants have turned state witnesses and are believed to have provided police with incriminating evidence. Netanyahu held the government's communications portfolio until last year and oversaw regulation in the field. Former journalists at the Walla news site have attested to being pressured to refrain from negative reporting of Netanyahu.

Netanyahu, for his part, denies wrongdoing.


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