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Netanyahu suggests police could implicate him in corruption probe

The Israeli police recommended on Feb. 13 that Prime Minister Netanyahu be indicted in two corruption cases. Here is what you need to know. (Video: Melissa Macaya, Loveday Morris/The Washington Post)

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested Wednesday night that he could be implicated in a police corruption investigation but sought to reassure his supporters that the allegations against him would amount to nothing.

His Facebook video message came as the Israeli press reported police would recommend that Netanyahu be indicted on charges including bribery and breach of trust.

Mickey Rosenfeld, a police spokesman, said two investigations in which Netanyahu has been named a suspect are “reaching a final conclusion.” Rosenfeld declined to comment further.

In the video, Netanyahu said, “Many of you are asking, what will happen? So I want to reassure you: There will be nothing, because I know the truth.” He pointed out that only the attorney general can decide whether to indict him.

The investigations in question — dubbed case 1000 and case 2000 — center on whether Netanyahu accepted lavish gifts in exchange for political favors, or cut a deal with a newspaper publisher to receive favorable coverage. He has defended his innocence, saying the investigations are part of a political campaign to unseat him.

But pressure has mounted, and police have recommended that his wife, Sara, be indicted on a charge of misuse of funds. A leaked audio recording of the couple’s oldest son, Yair, during a night of excess in Tel Aviv’s strip clubs further dented the reputation of Israel’s first family.

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Also looming is case 3000, which involves allegations of corruption and bribery in a multibillion-dollar submarine deal with Germany. While Netanyahu has not been named as a suspect in that case, members of his close circle have been arrested.

The state prosecutor recently told the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, that about half of the police’s recommendations end with nothing, Netanyahu said in his video on Wednesday. “So don’t worry: There will be recommendations, there will be signs saying, ‘Bibi is guilty until proven innocent,’” he said. “But I am sure that at the end of the day the competent legal bodies will come to the same conclusion, to the simple truth: There is nothing.”

According to a December poll by Hadashot TV news, 63 percent of Israelis say the prime minister should resign if police were to recommend an indictment for charges of fraud or breach of trust. Some 27 percent say he shouldn’t.

Ruth Eglash in Jerusalem contributed.

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