Netanyahu to face charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust
1 March 2019
Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced on Thursday his decision to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in connection with three separate cases on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, pending a hearing at which Netanyahu can challenge the charges.
The indictment announcement, following three years of deliberations over recommendations to prosecute by numerous authorities, comes just 40 days before the general election set for April 9. It centers on Netanyahu’s dealings with businessmen to whom he allegedly granted regulatory concessions in return for lavish gifts or favorable news coverage.
If the hearing, likely to be held after the election, rejects his challenge, Netanyahu, who has held the premiership since 2009 and before that from 1996 to 1999, will become the first sitting prime minister to be indicted.
While being the subject of a criminal investigation does not require Netanyahu to resign, it puts him under pressure to do so and seems likely to alter the course of the election, in which his Likud Party had been expected to win the largest number of seats in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.
The indictment announcement comes in the context of mounting tensions and divisions within the Israeli political establishment exacerbated by Netanyahu’s increasingly pronounced far-right orientation, including the cultivation of neo-fascist forces both within Israel and internationally.
Facing an unexpectedly serious electoral challenge from former army chief Benny Gantz in the April 9 vote, Netanyahu last week engineered a deal to shore up his right-wing coalition by merging…