JERUSALEM, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Israeli police on Sunday said they had found enough evidence for bribery and fraud charges to be brought against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife in a third corruption case against the Israeli leader.
Authorities allege Netanyahu awarded regulatory favors to Israel's leading telecommunications company, Bezeq Telecom Israel, in return for more positive coverage of him and his wife on a news website, Walla, owned by the company. Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing.
If indicted, the four-term prime minister would be facing one of the greatest challenges to his political survival. Despite his dominance of Israeli politics, the newest police recommendation comes just after his right-wing coalition's majority was reduced to a precarious one seat in parliament.
The final decision on whether to indict rests with Israel's attorney-general, who is still weighing whether to charge Netanyahu in the other two cases.
Those relate to allegations that Netanyahu accepted gifts from businessmen and that he tried to strike a deal with a different media mogul for better coverage in return for curbs on a competing newspaper.
Most of Netanyahu's coalition partners have said they will wait for a decision by the attorney-general before making any decisions about how to react to the allegations.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
President Donald Trump welcomes visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House in Washington, Monday, March 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, greet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, March 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump hold up the signed proclamation recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights as Netanyahu leaves the White House in Washington, Monday, March 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
President Donald Trump and visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu walk along the Colonnade of the White House in Washington, Monday, March 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shake hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during their visit at Netanyahu's official residence in Jerusalem, Thursday March 21, 2019. (Jim Young/Pool Image via AP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office Sunday, March 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit, Pool)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on January 22, 2017. / AFP / POOL / RONEN ZVULUN (Photo credit should read RONEN ZVULUN/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 21: (L to R) Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to U.S. President Barack Obama during a bilateral meeting at the Lotte New York Palace Hotel, September 21, 2016 in New York City. Last week, Israel and the United States agreed to a $38 billion, 10-year aid package for Israel. Obama is expected to discuss the need for a 'two-state solution' for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Pool Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 22: Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters, September 22, 2016 in New York City. According to the UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon, the most pressing matter to be discussed at the General Assembly is the world's refugee crisis. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 18: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference on November 18, 2014 in Jerusalem, Israel. Netanyahu said incitement by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Islamic Jihad led to a terrorist attack in a Jerusalem synagogue, which killed four worshippers and wounded several others. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - JUNE 02: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) speaks with Military Secretary Eyal Zamir during the weekly cabinet meeting in his office on June 2, 2013 in Jerusalem, Israel. (Photo by Sebastian Scheiner - Pool/Getty Images)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the press in the southern Israeli port of Eilat, on March 10, 2014, as Israel displayed advanced rockets type M-302 capable of reaching distances of up to 200 km that were unloaded from the Panamanian-flagged Klos-C vessel on March 9, 2014 in the southern Israeli port of Eilat. The vessel, which was allegedly transporting arms from Iran to Gaza, was escorted into the port of Eilat after Israeli naval commandos seized it on March 5, 2014. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - JANUARY 22: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu touches the Western Wall, Judaism holiest site, on January 22, 2013 in Jerusalem, Israel. The latest opinion polls suggest that current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will return to office, albeit with a reduced majority. (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - JANUARY 22: (ISRAEL OUT) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu casts his ballot at a polling station on election day on January 22, 2013 in Jerusalem, Israel. Israel's general election voting has begun today as polls show Netanyahu is expected to return to office with a narrow majority. (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
SDE BOKER, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 20: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Shimon Peres attend the annual memorial ceremony for David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first Prime Minister, in Sde Boker on November 20, 2012 in southern Israel. Hamas militants and Israel are continuing talks aimed at a ceasefire as the death toll in Gaza reaches over 100 with three Israelis also having been killed by rockets fired by Palestinian militants. (Photo by Dan Balilty - Pool /Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 23: Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, delivers an address to the 66th General Assembly Session at the United Nations on September 23, 2011 in New York City. The annual event, which is being dominated this year by the Palestinian's bid for full membership, gathers more than 100 heads of state and government for high level meetings on nuclear safety, regional conflicts, health and nutrition and environment issues. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - APRIL 10: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at his offices on April 10, 2011 in Jerusalem, Israel. Both Israel and Hamas have expressed a willingness to call a truce to cross-border violence that in the past few days has claimed at least 19 Palestinian lives in retaliatory Israeli air strikes. (Photo by Jim Hollander - Pool/Getty Images)
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Some analysts have said Netanyahu could call a snap vote in light of the legal proceedings against him. The next national election is not due until November 2019. But Netanyahu may want to seek a renewed mandate from the people, forcing a prosecutor to think twice before indicting him.
Netanyahu has said he wants his coalition to keep going until the end of its term, but politicians close to him say that given the coalition's shaky razor-thin majority, an early election is likely.
In Sunday's joint statement with the Israel Securities Authority, police said they also found sufficient evidence to charge Shaul Elovitch, a family friend of Netanyahu, with bribery.
At the time Elovitch was chairman and controlling shareholder of Bezeq. The authorities said there was also evidence to charge the company's then-CEO Stella Handler with fraud.
Elovitch and Handler have denied wrongdoing. They were both arrested and detained briefly earlier this year and have resigned from Bezeq.
In their statement, the authorities said: "The main suspicion is that the prime minister took bribes and acted out of a conflict of interest by intervening and making regulatory decisions that favor Shaul Elovitch and Bezeq." It alleged that Netanyahu sought to interfere with content of Bezeq's Walla website "in a way that would benefit him."
Netanyahu served as communications minister from 2015 to 2017.
The police also recommended that charges of fraud and breach of trust be brought against Netanyahu and his wife.
Shortly after the police recommendations were made public, Netanyahu issued a statement saying that the allegations had no legal basis and that ultimately nothing would come of the investigation.
"I am sure that also in this case the relevant authorities, after examining the matter, will reach the same conclusion - that there was nothing because there is nothing," he said. (Additional reporting by Stephen Farrell, Steven Scheer and Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Toby Chopra)