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Police Said to Walk Back Plan to Quickly Conclude Netanyahu Corruption Probes

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Police have revised their plan to submit recommendations in the two corruption cases against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the first weeks of the year, with the investigation now set to continue for several more months, Hadashot TV news reported Friday, citing a police source.

At the end of December, the same TV channel, also citing a police source, reported that barring any unexpected developments, the two probes were nearing completion and their results would be handed over to prosecutors soon.

But that report may have been “hasty,” Hadashot reported Friday, adding that police now want to question Netanyahu for an eighth time, and also follow up on several additional leads overseas.

The current estimate for concluding the case is now Passover, at the end of March, the report said.

Netanyahu himself appears to expect police to recommend charges against him, and has sought to downplay the importance of any such recommendation, recently telling a rally of Likud party members it was meaningless. (It is for state prosecutors, not police, to make a final decision on indictments.)

“If there will be recommendations [by police to indict] — so what?” Netanyahu said. “Here’s a fact I doubt the public knows: The vast majority of police recommendations end with nothing. More than 60 percent of police recommendations [to indict] are thrown out” — that is, do not result in the filing of an indictment by state prosecutors.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a rally with his supporters, in Tel Aviv, on December 19, 2017. (Flash90)

Netanyahu in the same speech, attacked law enforcement, alluding to unfair treatment at the hands of police.

“As early as January 2017, almost a year ago, the news item was miraculously leaked: The police will recommend an indictment against Netanyahu. They knew a year ago, even before the investigation,” he said. “Why did it take a year? A waste of time and public funds.”

Netanyahu is a suspect in two corruption investigations, known as cases 1000 and 2000. In the first, Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors, most notably hundreds of thousands of shekels’ worth of cigars and champagne from the Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.

Case 2000 involves a suspected illicit quid pro quo deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes that would have seen the prime minister weaken a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.

He denies any wrongdoing.

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