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Police believe they have conclusive evidence in Netanyahu graft case: report

Under the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, settlement construction has surged with some 15,000 settlers moving into the West Bank over the past year alone
Fraud unit is confident in the evidence it has uncovered, says report

Israeli police believe they have sufficient evidence to back up at least some charges of which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been accused, the Haaretz daily reported on Monday.

Authorities have opened probes into two alleged cases against Netanyahu: one, known as "Case 1,000", involves suspicions that the Netanyahu family improperly received expensive gifts from wealthy businesspeople, while the second, "Case 2,000" centers on allegations that Netanyahu negotiated a 'quid pro quo' arrangement with the publisher of the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper that would have limited circulation of the newspaper's main rival, Yisrael Hayom, in exchange for more favorable coverage for the prime minister.

A senior legal source said some of the accusations in "Case 1,000" are corroborated by conclusive evidence, according to Haaretz.

Members of Israel's national fraud unit handling the case said they have confidence in the evidence they have found, the newspaper reported.

Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh told press on Sunday that investigators were "in the final stretch regarding both affairs."

Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, are currently embroiled in controversy over accusations the two had for several years received gifts of cigars worth tens of thousands of shekels annually from  from billionaire business mogul Arnon Milchan and other wealthy benefactors.

According to a report by Haaretz on Friday, in most cases the gifts were not given spontaneously, but were requested by the Netanyahus themselves using the code name "pinks" to indicate a requested purchase of pink champagne and "leaves" to signal expensive cigars.

The Prime Minister has denied any wrongdoing on his part, while his lawyer has dismissed the possibility of criminal charges over such gifts, saying that "any reasonable person" understands that a "close friend" giving cigars as a gift was not a criminal offense.

But it has also been reported that Netanyahu repeatedly asked US Secretary of State John Kerry to intervene on Milchan's behalf in order to renew a long-term visa for the film producer in 2014.

Both Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu have been questioned under caution by police on the matter.


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