In a new twist to the corruption scandals dogging Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the embattled premier on Tuesday was forced to deny that one of his top aides attempted to bribe a judge in exchange for closing an investigation into his wife.
While the Prime Minister has not been named as a suspect in relation to the former corruption scandal involving an Israeli telecommunications company, he has been implicated by association after Israeli media reported he received favourable coverage for himself and his family while he was acting Minister of Communications from late 2014 to February past year.
Mr Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing and said the latest charges against him were merely a continuation of a wider media-orchestrated witch hunt against him and his family.
"A senior public servant was approached with a proposal to help promote her appointment to the position of attorney general, allegedly in exchange for a future promise by the candidate regarding her future decision in a certain criminal case", the police said in a statement.
The Haaretz daily said Gerstel had spoken about the incident at the time to her colleague Esther Hayut, who is now the Supreme Court's chief justice.
The controlling shareholder of Bezeq, Shaul Elovitch, was arrested along with Nir Hefetz, a long-time media advisor to the Netanyahu family, Shlomo Filber a Netanyahu associate and former director-general of the Communications Ministry among others.
"Hefetz never made such a ludicrous offer and was never asked to do so, and we can not believe he would do such a thing on his own accord", Netanyahu said.
The arrests are part of a corruption investigation called Case 4000.
Bezeq Chairman Shaul Elovitch is also in custody, along with his wife, son and other Bezeq executives.
"I never asked Nir Hefetz about this, he never spoke to me about it, and you know what?"
As prime minister, Netanyahu appointed himself as his own communications minister. Former journalists at the Walla news site have attested to being pressured to refrain from negative reporting of Mr Netanyahu.
Netanyahu has not been named as a suspect in the Bezeq affair, but a spokesman for his family responded to media reports on the investigation, calling them "yet another empty probe" that would yield nothing.
Police suspect Elovitch was granted business concessions in return for Netanyahu receiving positive coverage on Walla!
The new probe comes days after police announced there was sufficient evidence to indict Netanyahu for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in two separate cases. But as suspicions grow, "it becomes more hard politically to support Netanyahu", says CNN. In return, police say Netanyahu had operated on Milchan's behalf on United States' visa matters, legislated a tax break and connected him with an Indian businessman. In a televised speech a week ago, Netanyahu said he would continue to lead the country "with responsibility, dedication and loyalty".
This would not be the first time that Netanyahu has been accused of trying to win good press in corrupt ways, as police believe the premier sought a secret deal for favourable coverage with the publisher of top-selling newspaper Yediot Aharonot, whose publisher Arnon Moses could also face bribery charges.
Netanyahu's coalition partners will back him for now, as they wait for the attorney general to decide whether to indict him.