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In Israel, an Unwanted First for Netanyahu

He's charged with corruption, the first sitting prime minister to face criminal charges
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 21, 2019 11:00 AM CST
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a file photo.   (AP Photo/Oded Balilty, File)

(Newser) – 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 longtime leader's grip on power, per the AP. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit charged Netanyahu with fraud, breach of trust, and accepting bribes in three different scandals. It's the first time a sitting Israeli prime minister has been charged with a crime.

Allegations against Netanyahu include suspicions he accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars of champagne and cigars from billionaire friends, offered to trade favors with a newspaper publisher, and used his influence to help a wealthy telecom magnate in exchange for favorable coverage on a popular news site. The indictment doesn't 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.

(Read more Benjamin Netanyahu stories.)

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