The corruption scandal plaguing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel took a surprising turn with an allegation that one of his closest advisers had sought to bribe a judge into dropping a criminal investigation involving the Prime Minister’s wife. The Israeli police said they had arrested several of Netanyahu’s friends and confidants, and top executives of Bezeq, the country’s biggest telecommunications firm, in a widening inquiry into whether Netanyahu had traded official favours for favourable news coverage. The new allegations raise political and legal peril the PM faces, suggesting that he or some in his camp could be exposed to charges of obstructing justice. Police had recommended that the PM be prosecuted for accepting “bribes” worth nearly $3,00,000 from businessmen seeking favours. With new charges he will come under greater strains, accused by critics on the left of saber rattling over Iran and pressured by the right to accept its agenda of expanding settlements and annexing the West Bank.