Police suspect Netanyahu associate of trying to bribe judge

Two aides of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been suspected of corruption in a case related to the premier's wife, Sara, announced police on Tuesday.

The case police have skipped for now, file 3,000, a.k.a. the Submarine Scandal, is probably the mots serious of all the three or four cases still pending against the prime minister, involving allegations that Netanyahu opted to purchase German submarines to the tune of roughly half a billion euro each (there were three) against the expert opinion of the IDF brass, benefiting his associates. Netanyahu has denied any and all wrongdoing.

A statement from the police said two men had in 2015 "approached a public official with an offer to help advance her to the position of attorney general" in return for her taking certain action "on a criminal case", with the offer never reaching fruition.

The Haaretz daily said Gerstel had spoken about the incident at the time to her colleague Esther Hayut, who is now the Supreme Court's chief justice.

Former Netanyahu spokesman Nir Hefetz and former Communications Ministry Director-General Shlomo Filber, both known as close confidants of the prime minister, were also arrested.

Police investigators have intimated they have SMSs, emails, and even recordings of some of the arrested individuals, who've been remanded by the Tel Aviv Magistrate court for four and five additional days in jail.

Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder and CEO of the country's biggest telecoms company, and his wife have also been arrested as part of the probe.

"I never consulted Nir Hefetz on this matter, he never proposed anything to me on this issue, and you know what?" Per the bill drafted by Likud's MK Dudi Amsalem, the bill in its present form may not stop already launched investigations against Netanyahu but critics say he could use the bill, if passed, to his advantage during the next round of elections.

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The two are suspected of promoting regulation worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Israel's Bezeq telecom company in return for favourable coverage of Netanyahu in a highly popular subsidiary news site.

Yair Lapid, leader of the opposition Yesh Atid Party, said that if Netanyahu doesn't want to resign, he should at least declare himself "incapacitated", allowing a caretaker prime minister to be appointed.

Netanyahu has not been named as a suspect in the Bezeq affair, but a spokesman for his family had responded to media reports on the investigation, calling them "yet another empty probe" that would yield nothing.

In total, police say they arrested seven people on multiple charges including obstruction of justice and fraud. Netanyahu dismissed the investigations as "delusional, fabricated claims" that are part of an "orchestrated campaign" against him and vowed to "continue to lead the state of Israel responsibly, discreetly and with great dedication". She has denied the allegations and a final decision on charges is pending.

He is accused of receiving lavish gifts from Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan and Australian billionaire James Packer.

In return, police say Mr Netanyahu had operated on Mr Milchan's behalf on USA visa matters, legislated a tax break and connected him with an Indian businessman.

The attorney general must now decide how to move forward with the police recommendations, a process that could take months.

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