Police question Netanyahu in case involving close associates

Police question Netanyahu in case involving close associates

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was on Tuesday questioned as a police witness in a probe of alleged corruption over the state purchase of three German submarines, his office said.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has become embroiled in yet another scandal.

Netanyahu's personal attorney, who is also his cousin, represented the German firm involved and is suspected of using his influence over the prime minister in return for a hefty cut of the deal.

The attorney, David Shimron, has denied wrongdoing and said he never discussed the deal with Netanyahu, a distant relation.

Ofer Golan, Mr Netanyahu's lawyer, said in a statement that the prime minister "welcomes the opportunity given to him to clarify the picture in its entirety, and put an end once and for all to the false claims stated against him by politicians and others".

In the first investigation, known as Case 1000, he is suspected of bribery over gifts from wealthy businessmen, which police say were worth almost US$300,000. According to the FT Ganor signed an agreement previous year to turn state's witness.

Netanyahu is the subject of several corruption investigations, but he is not under suspicion in the submarine affair, known as Case 3000.

Police have recommended indicting Netanyahu for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in two other cases.

In Case 1000, he is suspected of bribery over gifts from wealthy businessmen, which police say were worth almost $300,000.

In Case 4,000, Netanyahu is being investigated over allegations that, while serving as communications minister between 2014 and 2017, he secured regulatory favours worth hundreds of millions of dollars for Bezeq Telecom Israel, the country's main telecoms company, controlled by Israeli businessman Shaul Elovitch. Case 2000 involves an alleged attempt by Netanyahu to win positive coverage in Israel's biggest newspaper by offering to take measures to curtail circulation of a rival daily.

Despite the probes, the right-wing leader's popularity has risen in the past few weeks, a reflection, commentators said, of his tough security policies, US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal he opposes, and the opening of the American Embassy in contested Jerusalem, a move Netanyahu has long advocated.

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