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Israeli police questioned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for five hours on Friday over what news reports said was his possible role in a far-reaching bribery scandal allegedly involving the granting of regulatory benefits worth millions of dollars to Israeli telecom giant Bezeq.

Media reports say Nir Hefetz and Eli Kamir, both former media advisers for the Netanyahu family, are alleged in 2015 to have offered judge Hila Gerstel a promotion in return for closing the criminal case.

It is believed that police presented Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu with pieces of evidence collected throughout the investigation and asked them to comment on them. A Reuters cameraman saw a vehicle carrying two police officers pull into the Prime Minister's official residence yesterday morning.

Shlomo Filber, the former director-general of the Communications Ministry and a longtime Netanyahu confidant, signed a deal last week to turn state's witness and possibly incriminate Netanyahu in the affair. "Let our people go free from all the corruption surrounding the government and the head of it", said Shimrit Orr, 72, a writer, from Tel Aviv.

"A prime minister under investigation can not, and may not, take crucial decisions", Shuki Cohen, a 63-year-old economist from Moshav Arugot, said.

Some drivers touted their horns in support as they drove by. He says that he has done nothing wrong, and has said that he will seek a fifth term in an election due in late 2019.

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In one of the investigations, known as Case 1000, he is accused of accepting almost $300,000 in lavish gifts from Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan and Australian billionaire James Packer. It is suspected that he acted in favor of Bezeq, the largest Israeli telecommunications company, in exchange for favorable coverage on the popular news site Walla, owned by Bezeq.

As it stands, PM's governing coalition partners stand by him, and await attorney-general's next steps.

In the other case, Mr Netanyahu is accused of offering a newspaper publisher legislation that would weaken his paper's main rival in return for more favourable coverage.

Bezeq's owner, Shaul Elovitch, is a longtime friend of Netanyahu and has also been detained as part of the investigation. In the meantime, Netanyahu is not obligated to resign and has indicated he will fight the charges while remaining in office.

Channel 10 News reported on Thursday evening that police have seen text conversations between Sara and Elovitch's wife Iris which strengthen suspicions that their husbands traded favours.


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