Israeli police arrested members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's inner circle in a widening graft probe, media reported.
Shlomo Filber, a Netanyahu confidant appointed as director of the communications ministry by the premier, was also arrested, along with Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder of Bezeq, members of Elovitch's family, and senior Bezeq executives.
He said that all changes to state policy regarding Bezeq were vetted and approved by officials at the professional expert level. He later handed over the portfolio to Likud Minister Ayoub Kara. The cases are now awaiting a review by the attorney general, after which Netanyahu's lawyers will get a chance to make their case before official indictments are served. Police requested adding to his remand, but the court rejected the request.
The report noted that Filber did not stand to gain personally by any of the crimes of which he is suspected. This isn't the Wild West.There are no private decisions here.All decisions are transparent and controlled.And therefore the claim that I acted in favor of Bezeq at the expense of practical considerations is simply baseless.
"They [the police] are creating new cases every two hours", the prime minister protested, as new allegations against his confidants surfaced. In return, Walla news, a part of Bezeq, allegedly agreed to cover the Netanyahus more favorably.
"Hefetz never made this absurd offer in front of the prime minister and his wife".
"As for the second claim which is no less preposterous and no less perfidious regarding appointment of the Attorney General: "I never asked Nir Hefetz about this, he never offered me anything about it, and you know what?"More news: Amazon makes Whole Foods more rewarding for Prime members
Netanyahu has not been named as a suspect in the Bezeq affair, but a spokesman for his family had responded to media reports on the investigation, calling them "yet another empty probe" that would yield nothing.
The new developments come less than a week after the police said there was sufficient evidence to indict Netanyahu on charges of corruption.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech on the third day of the 54th Munich Security Conference (MSC) held at the Bayerischer Hof hotel, in Munich, southern Germany, on February 18, 2018.
The attorney general must now decide how to move forward with the police recommendations on the Yediot Aharonot affair and another case involving gifts from Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian billionaire James Packer, in a process that could take months. "In return, police say, Netanyahu had operated on Milchan's behalf on U.S. visa matters, introduced a tax break and connected him with an Indian businessman", reports The Guardian.
Mr Netanyahu, who held the communications portfolio until past year, has not yet been named as a suspect in the case but is expected to be questioned.
The Trump White House, where ongoing criminal investigations directed at the nation's top elected official are all too familiar, has largely dismissed the recommendation by Israel's national police to indict Netanyahu for bribery. While Netanyahu has not been named as a suspect, close associates of his, including two personal aides, have been arrested or questioned. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert added in her February 13 press briefing that the USA considered Netanyahu's corruption cases "an internal Israeli matter".