Israeli police investigators have questioned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his residence in occupied Jerusalem al-Quds again over suspicions he received illegal gifts from a number of wealthy businessmen.
Interrogators from the so-called Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit arrived at Netanyahu’s home just before 9 a.m. local time (0700 GMT) on Friday to question him over his involvement in police cases 1000 and 2000. The session lasted 4.5 hours.
Israeli Hebrew-language media outlets reported that Netanyahu was presented with testimony given by Australian billionaire James Packer, which strengthened the likelihood of bribery charges brought against him.
This is the seventh time that Israeli police investigators are grilling Netanyahu for corruption. The last round of questioning took place on November 19, and lasted for four hours.
Case 1000 revolves around alleged illicit gifts given to Netanyahu and his family by different businessmen, most notably the Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.
The Israeli prime minister and his wife, Sara, have denied wrongdoing in the case, claiming that the value of the items was significantly lower than reported, and that they were only “trifles” exchanged between close friends.
Case 2000 focuses on an alleged clandestine deal made between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth publisher and owner Arnon “Noni” Mozes, in which the 68-year-old chairman of the Likud party promised Mozes he would support a bill to reduce the circulation of Yedioth’s main commercial rival, the Hebrew-language freebie Israel Hayom, in exchange for favorable coverage of himself in Yedioth.
Reports emerged earlier this year that the president of the World Jewish Congress and Netanyahu’s long-time ally, Ronald Lauder, had given the premier and his son gifts, including expensive suits. The accounts prompted Israeli police to interrogate the prime minister.
Netanyahu is currently under probe over suspicions that he accepted 1 million euros (about $1.1 million) from accused French fraudster Arnaud Mimran for campaign funds during the 2009 elections.
There are also calls for Netanyahu to be investigated for his role in a billion-dollar deal to purchase three submarines from German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems GmbH.
Netanyahu’s personal lawyer and one of his closest confidants, David Shimron, reportedly represented the German company behind the submarine contract.
The Israeli prime minister, in an apparently unrelated case, is also subjected to accusations that he and his spouse misappropriated public funds to pay for private expenses, ranging from laundry to ice cream.