Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists his coalition government remains stable and he will continue to govern despite police recommendations he be indicted for bribery in two investigations, including one that allegedly involves Australian mogul James Packer.
“I want to reassure you, the coalition is stable. No one, not I, not anyone else, has plans to go to an election. We will continue to work with you for the good of Israel’s citizens until the end of the term,” Netanyahu said at a conference in Tel Aviv.
“After reading the recommendations report, I can say that it is a biased, extreme document full of holes, like Swiss cheese.
I am certain, as I have always been certain, and nothing has changed, that the truth will come to light and nothing will come of this.”
His remarks came the morning after Israeli police made public their recommendations.
It is now up to Israel’s attorney-general to decide whether to file charges.
Netanyahu has denied wrongdoing in both investigations, which have gone on for more than a year.
One case, known as Case 1000, alleges the “committing of crimes of bribery, fraud and breach of trust by the prime minister, Mr Benjamin Netanyahu”.
Police named Arnon Milchan, a Hollywood producer and Israeli citizen, and Packer, saying they gave gifts that included champagne, cigars and jewellery to Netanyahu and his family.
In all, the merchandise was worth more than one million shekels ($A392,000), the statement said.
Any legal proceedings would likely focus on whether political favours were sought or granted.
Netanyahu’s lawyers said the presents were simply tokens of friendship.
The Australian Federal Police interviewed Mr Packer last December and he reportedly corroborated previous testimony by Milchan that the gifts were organised in response to demands by the Netanyahus.
The Australian billionaire said the gifts were organised by Milchan’s assistant.
On Tuesday night, Israel’s Channel 10 television quoted a lawyer for Milchan as saying that occasional gift-giving was devoid of any business interests.
In an emailed statement on Tuesday, after the police recommendations were made public, a spokesman for Packer said: “There is no allegation of wrongdoing on Mr Packer’s behalf. The Israeli and Australian police have confirmed that he was interviewed as a witness, not a suspect.”
The second case, Case 2000, also alleges “bribery, fraud and breach of trust by the prime minister” relating to his dealings with Arnon Mozes, the publisher of the biggest-selling Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.
The two men, police said, discussed ways of slowing the growth of a rival daily newspaper, Israel Hayom, “through legislation and other means”.
Police said they believed there was sufficient evidence to charge Mozes with offering a bribe.
The opposition Labor Party has called on Netanyahu to resign, saying his coalition allies need to choose between supporting the prime minister and upholding the rule of law.