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News Link • Israel

Netanyahu aides arrested as police open new inquiry

•, Anshel Pfeffer

Senior prime ministerial aides and a number of business executives were arrested early yesterday in Israel as part of a new police investigation into Binyamin Netanyahu's alleged corrupt activities.

Those held were being questioned over whether they were involved in illegal dealings between the Israeli prime minister and the owner of Israel's largest telecommunications firm.

The authorities are investigating whether Mr Netanyahu and his aides helped to introduce changes to government regulations that would benefit Bezeq, the telecom firm, in return for glowing news coverage by a website owned by the company's biggest shareholder. The investor is Shaul Elovitch, an Israeli media tycoon, who has been described by the prime minister as a friend.

Mr Elovitch is the owner of a popular Israeli website, Walla News, where Mr Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, received very positive coverage for years.

The investigation, named "Case 4000" by the authorities, comes five days after the police recommended charging the prime minister with bribery and fraud.

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