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Israeli TV Reports Netanyahu Probe Expected Within Days

  • Associated Press

File - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, gestures during a speech at the Knesset, Oct. 31, 2016. Israel's Justice Ministry and police issued a statement Dec. 28, 2016, that said they will issue an update "in due time" about an ongoing probe into suspicions surrounding the prime minister.

An Israeli TV channel reported Thursday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is suspected of receiving valuable gifts from two businessmen.

The Channel 2 segment was the latest in a series of reports in Israeli media saying that police are close to opening a criminal investigation against the prime minister.

The station said Netanyahu had accepted large-scale “favors” from businessmen in Israel and abroad. It said there had been a breakthrough in the case three weeks ago, but gave no further details.

Channel 2 said Netanyahu was the central suspect in a second investigation that also involves members of his family. It said some 50 witnesses were involved in the case.

The station, along with the Ynet news site, said a formal criminal probe is expected to be opened next week.

Israel's Justice Ministry and police declined to comment on the reports, saying they would issue an update “in due time.'' Police said Thursday that the media reports contained “speculations and disinformation.”

Netanyahu's office did not respond to a request for comment. But in the past, it has denied all allegations of wrongdoing by the prime minister.

In July, the attorney general announced he was looking into matters concerning Netanyahu but did not disclose what they were. Israeli media at the time reported they were related to Netanyahu's personal finances.

Leading Israeli opposition lawmaker Erel Margalit of the Zionist Union party has been campaigning for a formal investigation into suspicions of prominent donors improperly transferring money for Netanyahu's personal use, as well as reports that Netanyahu's personal attorney represented a German firm involved in a $1.5 billion sale of submarines to Israel.

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