Police name Netanyahu associates in corruption probe

A longtime confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau is expected to sign a deal to turn state's witness in the coming hours in the corruption investigation known as Case 4000, Hadashot TV news reported Tuesday, as the Israeli leader released a new video denying the " simply baseless" allegations against him.

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.

In a statement made on behalf of the Netanyahus, they deny the Prime Minister and his wife had any knowledge of any offer to shut the case, and certainly not at their behest.

Mr Netanyahu, who held the communications portfolio until a year ago, has not yet been named as a suspect in the case but is expected to be questioned.

Police suspect that Bezeq's controlling shareholder Shaul Elovitch was granted business concessions in return for Netanyahu receiving positive coverage on Elovitch's news website Walla.

On Monday, in a Facebook post, Netanyahu - who has described the investigations against him as a "witch hunt" - said: "There has never been any payback or illegal act in interaction with Elovitch".

"Hefetz never made such a ludicrous offer and was never asked to do so, and we can not believe he would do such a thing on his own accord", Netanyahu said.

Ultimately, Avichai Mandelblit was appointed attorney-general and took office in February 2016, but the police said that they were cracking down on the attempted bribery scheme in any case, to root out any crimes committed.

The two men have been identified as Nir Hefetz and Eli Kamir, both former media advisers for the Netanyahu family.

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"If you meet with Justice Gerstel in a closed room and ask her to close the investigation against Sara Netanyahu in exchange for her appointment as attorney general, what would her response be?"

Shaul Elovitch, a family friend of Netanyahu's who controls telecoms firm Bezeq through his Eurocom holding company, was arrested along with his wife, his son and Bezeq's CEO Stella Handler.

Netanyahu's government also introduced a bill to bar criminal investigations against the sitting prime ministers.

Tuesday's revelations came as police commissioner Roni Alsheich faced a parliamentary committee after outrage among lawmakers over a recent interview, in which he said that detectives probing Netanyahu had been targeted by private investigators to dig up dirt on them.

The new developments come less than a week after the police said there was sufficient evidence to indict Netanyahu on charges of corruption.

Meanwhile Maariv reported that Hefetz's detention has been extended because, according to the paper, he allegedly put pressure on judge Hila Gerstel to close an investigation that was ongoing at the time against Sara Netanyahu. She has denied the allegations and a final decision on charges is pending.

According to the police, Netanyahu and his family received goods, including jewelry, cigars, and Champaign, worth about one million shekels (282,800 dollars) from Israeli businessman and Hollywood tycoon Arnon Milchan and Australian businessman James Packer.

At home, opponents from the Israeli left are demanding he resign or declared himself "incapacitated" and "even Israel's enemies have begun seizing on Netanyahu's legal predicament", says The New York Times.

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