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The New Arab

Israel police arrest Netanyahu associates in corruption investigation

Netanyahu has repeatedly denied the allegations against him [Getty]

Date of publication: 18 February, 2018

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Israeli police have arrested two senior executives of the country’s largest telecom group as a part of a corruption investigation against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Israeli police have arrested two senior executives of the country’s largest telecom group as a part of a corruption investigation against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Haaretz reported.

The local daily said authorities arrested two close associates of Netanyahu on Sunday, days after police called for Netanyahu to be indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of public trust.

Investigators are reportedly looking into allegations the senior executives from Bezeq, which owns news website Walla, accepted bribes from Netanyahu in return for favourable coverage.

Police and Israel Securities Authority [ISA] said in a joint statement that the probe was under a gag order.

Bezeq has been under investigation over fraud and financial reporting offences, last year the telecom group's former chairman was arrested on corruption charges.

On Friday, thousands of Israelis marched against corruption in Tel Aviv, in the first protest since police recommended that Netanyahu be indicted for graft.

Several thousand people gathered for the protest calling on Netanyahu to step down, carrying banners reading 'Crime Minister' and 'Bye bye Bibi' - a common nickname for the Israeli leader.

The crowd chanted "Liar! Liar!" when one speaker sarcastically repeated Netanyahu's common refrain about the allegations that "there will be nothing because there is nothing".

Netanyahu has repeatedly denied the allegations, which he says are politically motivated, and has rejected calls to step down.

He is also being investigated over suspicions that he and his family received expensive gifts from Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian billionaire James Packer.

Between 2007 and 2016 he allegedly received cigars, champagne, jewellery and other goods estimated to be worth around one million shekels ($283,000).

Three polls published this week have found Israelis fairly evenly split - with between 45 percent and 50 percent saying Netanyahu should either resign or temporarily step aside, while between 40 percent and 43 percent think he should stay.

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