Israeli police recommend charging Netanyahu with bribery

Israel police eye corruption raps vs Netanyahu

"I can reassure you that the coalition is stable", Netanyahu said at an event in Tel Aviv, again making clear he had no intention of resigning.

"I believe this government will go the distance", he said. Calling them baseless, he told the public he would continue to lead Israel till the end of his term as Prime Minister.

Israeli police say they have proof Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted almost $300,000 in gifts from a pair of billionaires.

Lapid said that as a law abiding citizen he gave a short testimony upon request of the police and he called on Netanyahu to resign.

One of the cases against Mr Netanyahu alleges the "committing of crimes of bribery, fraud and breach of trust". "We will not avoid a decision, but I'm telling you right now, by law, the law says until the stage of the attorney general, there is no need to deal with it at all".

Netanyahu, however, said his government was "stable" and criticised the police investigation, which prompted calls for his resignation.

Ministers close to him also defended Netanyahu. Coalition MKs slammed Lapid, saying that if Netanyahu was guilty of something, he was just as guilty - as Milchin was a friend of his, as well.

The allegations are that she and an aide falsely declared that there were no cooks available at the prime minister's official residence and they ordered from outside caterers at public expense. "It's very simple", Gabbay said in a video interview with the Ynet news site.

Though he is not legally compelled to resign, several opposition figures called on Netanyahu to do so to avoid corrupting the office further.

"A prime minister is not meant to be flawless or live an over-modest lifestyle, but he needs to be someone people look at and say: "This is how one should act", he said in a speech in Tel Aviv.

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A decision on whether to press charges will be taken by Israel's attorney general. His coalition controls 66 seats out of 120 in parliament.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who heads the centrist Kulanu party, said he would do the same.

Police said in a statement that Netanyahu had accepted gifts valued at 750,000 shekels ($214,000) from billionaire film producer Arnon Milchan, and in exchange Netanyahu had operated on Milchan's behalf on USA visa matters and helped Milchan with the Israeli media market.

Police say that in that in return for lavish gifts that included jewelry, expensive cigars and champagne, Netanyahu had operated on Milchan's behalf on US visa matters, tried to legislate a generous tax break for him and sought to promote his interests in the Israeli media market.

The second investigation - "Case 2000" - involves suspicions that Netanyahu sought a secret deal for favourable coverage with the publisher of top-selling newspaper Yediot Aharonot, which the premier has regularly accused of being biased against him.

He is also suspected of acting in favour of Israel's Channel 10, where Milchan was a shareholder.

And this major charge against me is based on one hour of questioning of Lapid, in a year and a half of investigation, and now it turns out that Lapid is a key witness.

"The prime minister never acted and did not deal with any issue for Milchan, except for the issue of the visa", he asserted, referring to Netanyahu's apparent efforts to lobby U.S. authorities to extend the businessman's 10-year visa.

The case has focused primarily on Netanyahu's relationship with Israeli billionaire and Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.

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