Israel’s Netanyahu says he will avoid graft charges

Jerusalem: Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he would avoid corruption charges after he was questioned in two graft probes.

At a rally near Tel Aviv, he implied police would recommend he be indicted but that there would be no follow-up.

“There will be recommendations from the police to charge me, and then what?” the premier told a crowd of supporters from his Likud party.

Fraud squad detectives questioned Netanyahu at his Jerusalem residence on Friday, for the seventh time in a nearly year-long corruption probe.

In one investigation, the prime minister is suspected of illegally receiving gifts from wealthy personalities including Australian billionaire James Packer and Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.

In a second case, Netanyahu allegedly sought a secret pact for favourable coverage with the publisher of the top- selling Yediot Aharonot newspaper.

The purported scheme, not believed to have been finalised, would have seen him receive favourable coverage in return for helping curb Yediot’s competitor, the pro-Netanyahu freesheet Israel Hayom.

The 68-year-old premier has consistently denied any wrongdoing, and says he is the target of a smear campaign by political opponents.

Thousands of Israelis have protested in recent weeks to demand legal action against “corrupt” people in the government and their resignation.