Netanyahu questioned over corruption allegations

Jerusalem, Jan 3 (IANS) Israeli police have interrogated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over corruption allegations, a statement said.

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit said the interrogation ended at around 23.00 (local time) on Monday, Xinhua news agency reported.

It was the first time the Attorney and the police officially acknowledged the probe conducted for months.

Mendelblit said Netanyahu was interrogated over suspicions that he received “benefits” from businessmen.

He confirmed that Netanyahu was investigated as a suspect, with “a slew of allegations that the Prime Minister allegedly committed offences in the field of integrity”.

The investigation led to several other affairs, Mendelblit said. The probe has been conducted for several months but in December the investigators found evidence that “changed the situation of the case”, leading to Monday’s questioning.

Black screens were placed outside the Prime Minister’s official residence here on Monday to keep the media out.

Netanyahu’s office rejected the allegations as “baseless”. In a meeting of his Likud party ministers, he said: “They won’t come to anything because there is not anything.”

Netanyahu is under criminal investigation over suspicion that he and his family received “favours”, including gifts and money, from businessmen.

According to local media, Ron Lauder, an American billionaire, was linked with the case. Lauder was Netanyahu’s close friend until their relation soured.

Lauder was investigated by the police when he arrived in Israel for the funeral of the late President Shimon Peres in September.

Lauder then confirmed that he had given Netanyahu “various gifts and also financed a trip abroad for the Prime Minister’s son Yair”.