Israeli PM's confidant suspected of bribery

The latest suspicions emerged from a corruption probe involving former Netanyahu aide Nir Hefetz, who on Sunday was arrested along with another Netanyahu associate Shlomo Filber.

The new allegations come just a week after police recommended that Netanyahu be indicted in two corruption cases, ramping up pressure on the prime minister, who has served in office for more than a decade in total.

Netanyahu and his family's spokesman, Ofer Golan, has denied the allegations.

A statement from the police said two men had in 2015 "approached a public official with an offer to help advance her to the position of attorney general" in return for her taking certain action "on a criminal case", with the offer never reaching fruition.

Gerstel did not report the alleged bribe attempt to the police but she shared it with a colleague Esther Hayut, who was then a justice on the Supreme Court and now is the President of the Supreme Court.

Police investigators suspect that in return for Bezeq's subsidiary news website Walla's favorable coverage of Netanyahu, Communications Ministry regulators-when Netanyahu was serving as Communications Minister concurrent with his tenure as prime minister-gave Bezeq preferential treatment in order to increase the communications giant's profits - enough to enable Boss Elovitch to repay the huge sums he had borrowed in order to gain control of the Bezeq empire.

Police investigators have intimated they have SMSs, emails, and even recordings of some of the arrested individuals, who've been remanded by the Tel Aviv Magistrate court for four and five additional days in jail.

Also arrested were Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder of telecommunications group Bezeq, as well as members of his family and senior Bezeq executives.

"As for the second claim which is no less preposterous and no less perfidious regarding appointment of the Attorney General: "I never asked Nir Hefetz about this, he never offered me anything about it, and you know what?"

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves during the opening ceremony for a bomb-proof emergency room in a hospital in Ashkelon, Israel, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018.

Israeli media reports said Netanyahu is likely to face questioning in the police Bezeq probe. Per the bill drafted by Likud's MK Dudi Amsalem, the bill in its present form may not stop already launched investigations against Netanyahu but critics say he could use the bill, if passed, to his advantage during the next round of elections.

They are suspected of promoting a deal to give Netanyahu and his wife favorable coverage in Walla, a news site controlled by Bezeq, in return for the promotion of regulations worth hundreds of millions of USA dollars to the telecom company. In a televised speech a week ago, Netanyahu said he would continue to lead the country "with responsibility, dedication and loyalty".

Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit, a Netanyahu appointee, will make the final decision on whether to file charges - a process that is expected to take several months.

Netanyahu is accused of receiving lavish gifts from Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan and Australian billionaire James Packer. In return, police say Netanyahu operated on Milchan's behalf on US visa matters, legislated a tax break and connected him with an Indian businessman.

Israel's police chief, Roni Alsheikh, said Tuesday that the police recommendations were coordinated with the attorney general and were handled in a professional manner.

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