The prime minister will be indicted in three separate cases, with charges including bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
By World Israel News Staff and Associated Press
Israel’s attorney general on Thursday formally charged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a series of corruption cases, throwing the country’s paralyzed political system into further disarray and threatening the long-time leader’s grip on power.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit charged Netanyahu with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in three different matters. It is the first time a sitting Israeli prime minister has been charged with a crime. Mandelblit was set to issue a formal statement later Thursday.
Allegations against Netanyahu include claims he accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars of champagne and cigars from billionaire friends (Case 1000), offered to trade favors with a newspaper publisher (Case 2000) and used his influence to help a wealthy telecom magnate in exchange for favorable coverage on a popular news site (Case 4000).
In Cases 1000 and 2000, Netanyahu will face charges of fraud and breach of trust. In Case 4000, he will face the more serious charge of bribery, together with fraud and breach of trust.
In making his decision, Mandelblit adopted the recommendations of State Attorney Shai Nitzan and Liat Ben-Ari, head of the taxation and economic crimes division of the state attorney’s Tel Aviv district.
The indictment does not require Netanyahu to resign but is expected to raise pressure on him to step down.
Netanyahu has called the allegations part of a witch hunt, lashing out against the media, police, prosecutors and the justice system.
Netanyahu was scheduled to issue a statement later Thursday.