Israeli police interview Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for three hours
Netanyahu has repeatedly denied allegations, saying they are politically motivated
Netanyahu was interrogated Monday night on suspicion of corruption in a criminal investigation authorized by the nation’s attorney general. He is suspected of receiving benefits from businessmen, according to Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.
In the Facebook post, Netanyahu listed each accusation and said “Nothing” next to it.
“Accusation of forbidden election financing - Nothing!
“Accusation of fixing the primary Results - Nothing!
“Accusation of receiving benefits abroad and funding flights - Nothing!
“I repeat and say there will not be anything because there is nothing,” Netanyahu said.
The Prime Minister also said he wants the media to apologize because of the thousands of headlines and articles about him that will come to nothing.
Netanyahu was questioned “under caution on the suspicions of receiving benefits,” Rosenfeld said.
The term “under caution” refers to the questioning of someone suspected of having committed a crime, with the warning that anything he or she says or declines to talk about could be used against him or her in court proceedings.
Police and Mandelblit declined to release any further details of the three-hour questioning.
Netanyahu has repeatedly denied the allegations against him, saying they are politically motivated.
On New Year’s Day, the Prime Minister posted on his Facebook page, “Unfortunately you’ll have to be disappointed this time as well, like you were disappointed in previous affairs. As usual, there will not be anything because there is nothing. Try replacing the Prime Minister at the ballot box – as is customary in a democracy.”
Police investigated Netanyahu over allegations of fraud and breach of trust in the late 1990s during his first term. He was never indicted.
Netanyahu is in his fourth term.
Questioning at residence
Until now, the inquiry was an examination. It did not reach the level of a criminal investigation, and Netanyahu was not suspected of having committed a crime. But a police car pulled into his residence Monday night, marking the beginning of the criminal investigation.
The inquiry into Netanyahu began in mid-July, the attorney general said. But the specific accusation that led to the criminal investigation surfaced three months ago. Police investigators searched for evidence to support the suspicion and last month found enough to warrant an investigation, according to the attorney general.
Mandelblit would not elaborate on what the suspected crime was, instead ruling out any link to investigations that have been dismissed. Those include two issues related to the 2009 elections and primaries, and two related to receiving flights and benefits overseas.
Netanyahu does not have to step down if he is suspected of committing a crime. He is only required to step down if convicted and that conviction is upheld by Israel’s high court. However, he could face enormous public and political pressure to resign if he is indicted.
Other Israeli prime ministers have been investigated, including Ariel Sharon, Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert.
Olmert was sentenced to eight months in prison for taking cash from an American businessman. He was also fined $25,700.