DAMASCUS, SYRIA (3:30 PM) – Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been questioned by police for the fifth time as part of a probe into corruption practices by himself and his cabinet, The Guardian reports.
Netanyahu is suspect in at least two corruption cases currently running against him, which reportedly have heavily damaged his standing and that of his Likud party in the public opinion of Israel.
In the first investigation, the prime minister is suspected of having accepted expensive gifts from wealthy benefactors in exchange for services. One important donator reportedly is Hollywood producer and media mogul Arnon Milchan, who allegedly paid generously for Netanyahu’s aid in obtaining a US visa, developing a free-trade zone near the Jordanian border and obtaining shares of the Israeli television market.
The second investigation has Netanyahu accused of having bought favourable news coverage from popular newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, which had formerly been quite critical of his rule. In exchange for this, Netanyahu is alleged to have promised to create problems for the broadsheet’s main rival, the paper Israel Hayom.
On top of these two scandals, Netanyahu was in the spotlight once again when earlier this week, two of his closest advisors have been accused of bribery in order to ensure the smooth passing of a deal with German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp that would see Israel purchase no less than three submarines and four patrol boats. Netanyahu himself has not been named as a suspect in this case, however.
While Netanyahu has denied any and all involvement in these cases, and has called it a smear campaign by political opponents, a recent poll shows that a majority of Israelis want Netanyahu to resign at the end of his term with only 38% wanting him to stay in power longer.