Champagne and bribery: the cases ensnaring Israel's Netanyahu


Jerusalem (AFP)

From granting favours for fine champagne to attempting to bribe a judge -- a series of allegations have entangled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in recent months.

Netanyahu was questioned for an eighth time by police Friday over fresh allegations, but protests his innocence and accuses the media and police of a witch-hunt.

Below is a list of the key cases concerning the veteran leader:


On February 13 Israeli police recommended Netanyahu be indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of public trust in two cases known as 1000 and 2000.

The former concerns allegations Netanyahu received luxury cigars, champagne and jewellery from wealthy individuals estimated to be worth about one million shekels (229,000 euros, $283,000) in exchange for financial or personal favours.

According to police, Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan was responsible for some 750,000 shekels in gifts, while Australian billionaire James Packer provided the other 250,000 shekels' worth.

Netanyahu is suspected to have in return sought to help Milchan receive tax benefits that some reports said could have been worth millions of dollars.


Case 2000 concerns allegations Netanyahu sought a deal with the owner of the Yediot Aharonot newspaper that would have seen it give him more favourable coverage.

In exchange Netanyahu allegedly raised the possibility of passing legislation to limit the circulation of Israel Hayom, a free newspaper that is the main rival to Yediot.

Ari Harow, a former Netanyahu chief of staff, agreed to testify for the state in the case in exchange for leniency.

Telecoms deal

Netanyahu and his wife Sara were both questioned by the police Friday, with media reporting it was related to so-called Case 4000, also an alleged attempt to seek positive media coverage through favours.

The reports said Netanyahu tried to get favourable coverage on the Walla! news site owned by Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder of Israeli telecommunications giant Bezeq, in exchange for policies benefitting Bezeq.

Seven people had been arrested in recent days, while Israeli army radio reported an unnamed former official was held Friday morning.

Among those detained are Shlomo Filber, once one of the prime minister's closest confidants, Nir Hefetz, a former Netanyahu spokesman, and Elovitch.

Filber, a Netanyahu ally for more than 20 years and a former communications ministry director general, is expected be a state witness in exchange for avoiding jail.

He is accused of mediating between Netanyahu and Elovitch and promoting regulatory changes worth millions to Bezeq.

Filber, Elovitch and Hefetz remain in custody.

Bribing a judge

Another case, 1270, relates to an alleged attempt to bribe a judge to drop a corruption case against Netanyahu's wife Sara.

Media reports say Nir Hefetz and Eli Kamir, both former media advisers for the Netanyahu family, are alleged in 2015 to have offered judge Hila Gerstel a promotion in return for closing the criminal case.

Sara Netanyahu and an aide are accused of falsely declaring that there were no cooks available at the prime minister's official residence and ordering from outside caterers at public expense.

In September 2017 the attorney general informed Sara Netanyahu he was likely to indict her over the claims.


A final case, dubbed 3000, is being investigated separately and has involved Netanyahu allies, but the prime minister has not been named as a suspect.

Two allies of Netanyahu have been questioned several times by police as part of an investigation into suspicions of corruption surrounding the sale of three submarines to Israel by German company ThyssenKrupp.

Police have not yet called for an indictment in this case.