Israel's AG Delivers Huge Blow to Netanyahu

Recommends indicting the prime minister on bribery and other charges
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 28, 2019 12:11 PM CST
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he delivers a statement in Ramat Gan, Israel, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019.   (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

(Newser) – Israel's attorney general on Thursday recommended indicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with bribery and breach of trust in a series of corruption cases, a momentous move that will shake up Israel's election campaign and could spell the end of the prime minister's political career. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced his decision after more than two years of intense investigations and deliberations, the AP reports. Police had recommended indicting Netanyahu for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in three different cases that ranged from accepting expensive gifts from wealthy allies to allegedly trading influence for more favorable press coverage. The final decision on indictment will take place after a hearing at which Netanyahu is given the opportunity to defend himself.

That process is expected to take many months and be completed long after the April 9 elections. But the recommendations immediately cast a cloud over the campaign and Netanyahu's future. No sitting prime minister has been charged with a crime in Israel's history. Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert served time in prison for corruption, but had already resigned by the time he was charged. Netanyahu doesn't look to go that quietly. He denies any wrongdoing and calls the various allegations a media-orchestrated witch hunt aimed at removing him from office. He has vowed to carry on and is deadlocked in the polls, 40 days before Israelis go to vote. (More on the charges here.)

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