Netanyahu to be indicted on corruption charges, Israeli attorney general says

Decision could severely shatter Israeli PMs chances in Aprils general election

Israel’s attorney general has announced his intention to accuse the country’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in three corruption cases.

The decision comes only six weeks before the Israeli general election and could severely damage Netanyahu’s opportunities in a tight race.

Avichai Mandelblit’s long-awaited announcement signals his intent to prosecute the first ministers with criminal wrongdoing in all the cases against him, in which he has been accused of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

Under Israeli law, Netanyahu can defend himself in a pre-trial hearing before the charges are formally filed under courtroom , and potentially persuade the prosecutor general to have them plummeted. It is not clear if that process will begin before the election on 9 April but it will likely take many months.

However, the load of bulletin hurls serious doubt over his political future.

He has denied all accusations, dismissing them as one of the purposes of a witch-hunt orchestrated by the press. Speaking on Thursday evening, Netanyahu said in a televised proclamation that” this entire house of cards will collapse “.

The country’s second-longest serving premier who runs “the worlds largest” right-wing government in its history, Netanyahu has already been pledged not to resign if indicted. He would be under no legal obligation to do so.

He cautioned the legal occurrence against him was a political gambit by leftist opposings” simply to topple the right wing and heighten the left to the premiership. There is no way other explanation .”

Netanyahu says that such accusations were lies and a” blood libel “.

Fearing the impact on the upcoming election, the prime minister’s right-wing Likud party petitioned the high court on Thursday in last-minute attempt to block the announcement, but it was rejected.

The party afterwards described the charges as” political mistreatment “.

” Unilateral book of the attorney general’s announcement simply a month before such elections, without affording the first ministers an opportunity to refute these false accusations, is a blatant and unprecedented intervention in such elections ,” Likud said in a statement.

During two years of intense deliberations and questions, police have already recommended that Netanyahu, be indicted in all three cases.

He could face up to 10 times in jail if convicted of bribery and a maximum three-year word for cases of fraud and breach of trust.

Case 1,000 involves the complaints of receiving endowments, including expensive cigars, pink champagne and jewellery, from international billionaires allegedly in exchange for favours. In Case 2,000, Netanyahu is accused of colluding with the country’s top-selling newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, to suffer its rivalry in return for favourable coverage.

The third and most serious occurrence, 4,000, involves accusations that Netanyahu offered incentives to the Israeli telecom provider Bezeq in exchange for positive stories in an online news website it owns, Walla.

It would be the first time that a sitting prime minister has been charged. A poll by the Times of Israel found that the decision could lose Netanyahu four seats in such elections and scupper his the possibilities of forming a alliance government.

The poll indicated the newly established Blue and White party, run by retired army manager Benny Gantz, could see a major jump in its Knesset seats, placing it in a strong position to form a coalition.

Further suffering Netanyahu’s run for reelection, several key friends of the prime minister have said they will not support him if the prosecutor general proceeds forward with an indictment.

Netanyahurushed back on Wednesday from a journey to Moscow where he met with President Vladimir Putin to prepare for the possible fallout.

Hours ahead of the notice, the embattled Israeli commander received support from his ally, the US president Donald Trump.

” I just think he’s been a great prime minister and I don’t know about his difficulty ,” he said in response to a few questions in Hanoi.

” I can say this, that he’s done a great chore as prime minister. He’s tough, he’s smart, he’s strong ,” Trump said.

Separately, Sara Netanyahu was charged last year with fraud and breach of trust for allegedly overspending roughly $100,000( PS78, 000) on private dinners at the prime minister’s official residence, even though there was a full-time chef on faculty. She denies such accusations, and the case is ongoing.

Read more: https :// www.theguardian.com/ world/ 2019/ feb/ 28/ benjamin-netanyahu-corruption-charges-decision-expected-today

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