Israeli PM Netanyahu questioned again over graft charges

RSTV Bureau
Photo courtesy: Twitter/@Reuters

Photo courtesy: Twitter/@Reuters

Israeli police questioned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again for a second time to probe corruption allegations against him. He was earlier questioned on Monday for over three hours.

It is alleged that Netanyahu illegally accepted gifts worth thousands of dollars from wealthy supporters.

The second time questioning was reported by the media but the police and Netanyahu’s office declined to comment on it.

Various Israeli media reports said investigators arrived at Netanyahu’s residence in central Jerusalem in the afternoon for a second round of questioning.

Netanyahu is suspected of receiving gifts from business people, according to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who is overseeing the investigation.

The Prime Minister’s first round of questioning on Monday lasted for three hours.

The probe has shaken the country’s political scene and raised questions over whether Netanyahu would eventually be forced to resign in his fourth term as prime minister.

US billionaire and World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder has been among those questioned in the probe over gifts he allegedly gave Netanyahu and alleged spending on trips for him, reports say.

Lauder, whose family founded the Estee Lauder cosmetics giant, has long been seen as an ally of Netanyahu.

Netanyahu has also acknowledged receiving money from French tycoon Arnaud Mimran, who was sentenced to eight years in prison in France over a scam involving the trade of carbon emissions permits and taxes on them.

Netanyahu’s office said he had received USD 40,000 in contributions from Mimran in 2001, when he was not in office, as part of a fund for public activities, including appearances abroad to promote Israel.

Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing, saying repeatedly that “there will be nothing because there is nothing”.

The inquiry has led to fierce debate in Israeli politics, with Netanyahu’s allies accusing opposition politicians and some in the media of unfairly pressuring the attorney general.

Others have accused Mandelblit of moving too slowly in the intensely watched probe.

(With inputs from agencies)