Benjamin Netanyahu to be charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust, Israeli attorney general confirms

Avichai Mandelblit informed the Israeli Prime Minister of his intention to indict on Thursday afternoon


Benjamin Netanyahu will formally face bribery charges over claims he accepted illegal gifts worth vast sums from wealthy business leaders.

In a decision that could have sweeping implications for the Knesset election campaign, Israel's attorney general Avichai Mendelblit wrote to the prime minister on Thursday, informing him that he is considering an indictment.

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

His Likud party failed in an eleventh-hour effort to persuade Israel's High Court that Mr Mandelblit's letter should be delayed until after the election.

The Prime Minister is expected to deliver a televised address later on Thursday evening.

Mr Mandelblit's decision 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 attorney general's decision is preliminary and Mr Netanyahu will face a pre-trial hearing before an indictment becomes official and a full trial takes place. Together with any appeal hearings, the judicial process could take another two years.

But Mr Netanyahu's official status as a criminal suspect could have more immediate ramifications because it comes six weeks before Israelis head to the polls on April 9.

Analysts said his Likud party could see an immediate drop in its opinion poll ratings.

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