Israeli police say Benjamin Netanyahu should face corruption charges

Israeli police have said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should face charges for alleged corruption.

A police statement published by Israeli media said there was sufficient evidence to indict Mr Netanyahu for fraud, bribery and breach of trust.

The reported recommendations do not immediately threaten Mr Netanyahu, but they are deeply embarrassing and could fuel calls for him to step aside. 

Responding to the statements, Mr Netanyahu said if the police went ahead with the charges it “will end with nothing”.

Police have been investigating two cases over several months. In one probe, Mr Netanyahu reportedly received over $300,000 in gifts including champagne and cigars from Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan and other wealthy supporters. 

The other is over secret talks with the publisher of a major Israeli newspaper in which Mr Netanyahu allegedly requested positive coverage in exchange for reining in a free pro-Netanyahu daily. 

Channels 10 and 2 TV and the Jerusalem Post and Haaretz newspapers reported police recommended indictments in both cases.

The attorney general will now review their conclusions and decide whether to file charges. 

In a national address Mr Netanyahu denied any wrongdoing. He said his political career has been solely “for the good of the nation” and accused police of being on a witch hunt against him and vowed to remain in office.

He added: “I will continue to lead the state of Israel responsibly and loyally as long as you, the citizens of Israel choose me to lead you.

“I am sure that the truth will come to light. And I am sure that also in the next election that will take place on time I will win your trust again with God’s help.”

The 68-year-old Israeli leader is currently in his second term as prime minister and has already served for 12 years.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, a bitter rival of Mr Netanyahu, called on him to step down and for the coalition to appoint a replacement on Wednesday morning. 

“The depth of corruption is horrifying,” Mr Barak said. “This does not look like nothing. This looks like bribery.”

AP contributed to this report