- Title: Israel's Netanyahu dismisses media reports of gifts investigation
- Date: 2nd January 2017
- Summary: JERUSALEM (JANUARY 1, 2017) (REUTERS) ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU ARRIVING AT WEEKLY CABINET MEETING VARIOUS OF NETANYAHU CONVENING MEETING CABINET MINISTER ZAHI HANEGBI DURING MEETING CAMERAMAN (SOUNDBITE) (English) CABINET MINISTER ZAHI HANEGBI SAYING: "Since I know the Prime Minister for 30 years, I'm aware of his personality and I'm totally convinced that he will be clean totally from any allegations or accusations. He is an honest man. He has integrity. And he will keep leading the state of Israel in the future." VARIOUS OF NETANYAHU DURING CABINET MEETING
- Embargoed: 17th January 2017 13:57
- Keywords: Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu investigation police. question
- Location: JERUSALEM
- City: JERUSALEM
- Country: Israel
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0025XDZ4UF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE EDIT CONTAINS MATERIAL WHICH WAS ORIGINALLY 4:3
Israeli Police are expected to question Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his official residence in Jerusalem on Monday (January 02) on suspicion of receiving gifts from businessmen in breach of his role as a public servant, Israeli media reported.
The move was authorised by Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, who decided after a preliminary probe that there was sufficient evidence for a criminal investigation, Haaretz newspaper reported. The questioning will take place on Monday evening, Israel Radio said.
The police and Justice Ministry would not confirm when the interview would take place or the nature of the investigation, details of which have appeared in the media in recent days. Netanyahu's office has denied any wrongdoing.
"Wait with the celebrations, don't rush. I've said it before and I'll say it once again: there will be nothing because there is nothing. You will continue to release hot air balloons into the air and we will continue leading the state of Israel," Netanyahu said during his weekly meeting of his political group.
A member of his cabinet, Minister Zahi Hanegbi, told reporters on Sunday that Netanyahu was an "honest man".
Haaretz and other newspapers said the probe related to gifts worth "hundreds of thousands of shekels" ($1=3.85 shekels) given to Netanyahu by Israeli and foreign businessmen.
Channel 2, a commercial network, said the investigation was one of two cases now open against the prime minister, although it said details of the second remained unclear.
Netanyahu, 67, has been in power on and off since 1996. He is currently in his fourth term as prime minister and will become Israel's longest-serving leader if he stays in office until the end of next year.
He and his wife, Sara, have weathered several scandals over the years, including investigations into the misuse of state funds and an audit of the family's spending on everything from laundry to ice cream. They have denied any wrongdoing.
Netanyahu is not the first prime minister to be questioned in a criminal case.
Ehud Olmert, who held office from 2006 to 2009, is currently serving 18 months in prison after being convicted of breach of trust and bribery in 2014.
Former prime minister Ariel Sharon was questioned while in office in 2003 and 2004 over allegations of bribery and corruption involving him and his two sons. In 2006, his son Omri was convicted of corruption and served time in prison.
Netanyahu's police appointment drew a barrage of commentary from the centre-left opposition in parliament, with politicians calling for him to go.
Israeli commentators pointed out that while Netanyahu may be questioned, it has happened many times in the past and prime ministers have gone on governing, sometimes for years.
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