JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, fighting for his political life after being accused of taking bribes from billionaire supporters, is no stranger to scandal.
Over a three-decade political career, Netanyahu has been accused of everything from accepting improper gifts to spending too much public money on ice cream to wasting tens of thousands of dollars on a custom-fitted bed for a five-hour flight to London. Close confidants and even family members have also come under suspicion.
With cat-like deftness, Netanyahu has always managed to escape prosecution. But the latest scandal may be the most serious threat yet to his lengthy rule.
Police announced late Tuesday that there was sufficient evidence to indict Netanyahu for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in a pair of cases.
In the first, he is suspected of accepting nearly $300,000 in gifts, including champagne and fancy cigars, from Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan and Australian billionaire James Packer. In exchange, Netanyahu allegedly lobbied U.S. officials on Milchan’s behalf in a visa matter and helped promote his business affairs in Israel.
In the second case, he is suspected of offering preferential treatment to a newspaper publisher in exchange for favorable coverage.
Netanyahu has angrily rejected the accusations and denounced what he describes as an overzealous police investigation.
In a televised address Tuesday night, he said he had faced 15 investigations over the years, all of which, he claimed, amounted to “nothing.” He similarly predicted the latest uproar would pass.
For the time being, Netanyahu’s job remains secure,…