Benjamin Netanyahu to be charged with bribery and fraud, Israel's attorney general announces

Officials seek to strip his parliamentary immunity as he becomes the first sitting prime minister to face corruption allegations


Benjamin Netanyahu has become the first prime minister in Israel’s history to be charged with bribery and fraud, after it was announced he would face trial in three corruption cases.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said that Mr Netanyahu would be charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in the three cases.

In a televised statement on Thursday evening, Mr Mandelblit said he made the decision with “a heavy, but whole heart”.

“It is my duty as attorney general to make it clear to the citizens of Israel that no one is above the law. It is a difficult day, but an important one as well,” he said.

He added that the prime minsiter was innocent until proven otherwise, but criticised Mr Netanyahu's lawyers for trying to “fraudulently” hold pre-trial haerings in public.

The Knesset speaker had been informed that MKs would be asked to strip the Israeli prime minister of his parliamentary immunity.

Mr Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing and has previously dismissed the allegations against him as a “house of cards [that] will come crashing soon”.

He said in a defiant statement on Thursday that the judiciary was itself corrupt, and that it was time to “investigate the investigators”, confirming that he would not resign and would contest the charges as a sitting prime minister.

Thursday’s announcement is the latest stage in a case against the Israeli prime minister that has been assembled over three years, including police and financial investigators and evidence from a number of Mr Netanyahu's former aides, who have accepted plea bargains.

The Israeli prime minister will be indicted on bribery over allegations he helped a telecoms mogul sell companies he owns at an inflated prices.

He will also face allegations of breaching public trust in relation to claims he received high-value gifts from wealthy businesspeople and sought to limit the circulation of an opposition newspaper.

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