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Close associates of Israeli PM Netanyahu arrested

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Staff Writer | February 19, 2018
As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces criminal charges of his own, members of his inner political circle have been arrested on suspicion they intervened with regulators.
Corruption charges   Elovitch offered Netanyahu favorable treatment
Police arrested seven people on corruption charges Sunday, days after they recommended to Israel's attorney general that Netanyahu should be indicted on separate charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in two separate cases.

Close associates of Netanyahu, and senior figures of Bezeq Telecommunications Co., were arrested and questioned on Sunday, although a gag order prevented release of their names and details of the case.

New evidence suggests that two of the prime minster's associates and perhaps Netanyahu himself helped Bezeq owner Shaul Elovitch by intervening with government media regulators. Authorities said Elovitch offered Netanyahu favorable treatment in news coverage from two media platforms he owns - the Walla! News Portal and Bezeq.

As new evidence emerged, it was transferred from an investigation by the Israel Securities Authority to a joint police-ISA probe that indicates the discovery of bribery and fraud offenses, which are the purview of the police.

Although Netanyahu was not named as a suspect over the weekend, The Jerusalem Post reported Monday the prime minister will be questioned "under caution," a term used to describe suspects in criminal cases.

Prosecutors say Netanyahu had offered political favors to associates.