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The BBC's Alix Kroeger
"The accusations against Mr Netanyahu could hardly be more serious"
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The BBC's Paul Adams reports
"Binyamin Netanyahu finally faces the real possibility of an indictment"
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Tuesday, 28 March, 2000, 23:18 GMT 00:18 UK
Netanyahu launches TV defence

Mr Netanyahu says the accusations are baseless
Former Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has dismissed allegations of fraud, attempted misuse of state funds, breach of trust and obstruction of justice during a TV interview.

Earlier on Tuesday, Israeli police recommended that criminal charges should be brought against Mr Netanyahu and his wife, Sara.

They are in essence deciding to neutralise me politically
During a 50-minute television interview, the former prime minister accused police investigators and journalists of being out to get him. He called the accusations against him and his wife "baseless" and politically motivated.

In a spirited defence Mr Netanyahu told Israeli television viewers: "We didn't take anything."

If Israel's attorney-general accepts the recommendation of the Israeli police, Mr Netanyahu could be charged with accepting a bribe, fraud and breach of trust by a public servant. His wife could face charges that include theft.

police search `
Police searched Mr Netanyahu's home and office
The eight-month police investigation focused on suspicions that Mr Netanyahu and his wife kept official gifts that should have been handed over to the state after he left office in July.

The gifts reportedly included candlesticks, silverware, candelabra, carpets, pictures, scarves and a gold letter opener that was a gift from US Vice President Al Gore.

They are also accused of charging the government for services of a building contractor who did private work for them.

'Baseless allegations'

Regarding the gifts he received as prime minister, Mr Netanyahu said the law allowed him to take them to the permanent office the state provides for past prime ministers. He said he had the gifts at home because the new office was not ready when he left the official residence.

Mrs Netanyahu
Sara Netanyahu: widely disliked by Israeli media
Mr Netanyahu also showed viewers a pin from a family friend. He said that police had questioned his wife for four hours and the friend for seven about the gift. He added that an professional estimate had put the value of the pin at between $1 and $1.50.

He complained that some of his closest family had been hurt by the police inquiry. He said his eight-year-old son Yair, feared going to school where other pupils called his parents thieves.

Mr Netanyahu also complained that his possible return to politics was being sabotaged by the decision to press criminal charges.

"I didn't rule out the possibility I would return to politics and I still haven't confirmed it, but effectively this decision is denied me. They are in essence deciding to neutralise me politically," Mr Netanyahu said on Tuesday.


Several other senior Israeli politicians are currently under investigation or involved in scandals.

  • Prime Minister Ehud Barak: police are currently probing his campaign financing. They say Mr Barak's party, One Israel, circumvented the spending limits to election donations in his successful campaign against Mr Netanyahu.
  • President Ezer Weizman: is under investigation for accepting large sums of money from a French businessman in the 80's
  • Transport Minister Yitzhak Mordechai: suspected of sexually harassing a female staff in his office
  • Rabbi Ovadia Yosef - the spiritual head of the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party: under investigation on suspicion of incitement to violence against a political adversary.
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See also:

29 Mar 00 | Media reports
Israeli media on Netanyahu
28 Mar 00 | Middle East
The Netanyahus: A colourful partnership
07 Mar 00 | Middle East
Israeli minister faces assault probe
27 Jan 00 | Middle East
Barak party faces criminal probe
21 Oct 99 | Middle East
Netanyahu quizzed by police
27 Jan 00 | Middle East
The whiff of scandal
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