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Tags: ML | Israel | Netanyahu

Israel Awaits Decision on Netanyahu Corruption Indictment

Israel Awaits Decision on Netanyahu Corruption Indictment

Thursday, 28 February 2019 03:38 AM EST

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's attorney general is expected to deliver a much-anticipated decision Thursday on whether to indict Benjamin Netanyahu on a series of corruption allegations, a momentous move that looks to shake up Israel's election campaign and potentially spell the end of the prime minister's illustrious political career.

Avichai Mandelblit, the attorney general, is to announce his decision after more than two years of intense investigations and deliberations.

Police have recommended indicting Netanyahu for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three different cases. Mandelblit is expected to inform Netanyahu's lawyers he intends to indict pending a final hearing for the suspect, though the exact charges are not yet clear.

An indictment would mark the first time in Israeli history that a sitting prime minister has been charged with a crime. 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 head to the polls on Apr.9.

His Likud Party and nationalist coalition partners have lined up behind him thus far, all but ruling out sitting in a government led by his primary opponent, retired military chief Benny Gantz.

While Israeli prime ministers are not required by law to resign if charged, the prospect of a prime minister standing trial while simultaneously running the country would be unchartered territory.

Mandelblit's decision could either galvanize Netanyahu's hard-line supporters who see him as a victim of an overzealous prosecution or turn more moderate backers against him who have tired of his lengthy rule tainted by long-standing accusations of corruption and hedonism.

Either way, the upcoming elections appear to be morphing into a referendum on Netanyahu as he seeks to become the longest serving premier in Israeli history. Netanyahu have been prime minister since 2009 and served a previous term between 1996 and 1999.

Netanyahu rushed back Wednesday from a diplomatic mission to Moscow, and a meeting with President Vladimir Putin, to prepare for his expected rebuttal to the charges on Thursday.

The most serious allegations against Netanyahu involve his relationship with Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder of Israel's telecom giant Bezeq. Police recommended an indictment in the case based on evidence collected that confidants of Netanyahu promoted regulatory changes worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Bezeq. In exchange, they believe Netanyahu used his connections with Elovitch to receive positive press coverage on Bezeq's popular subsidiary news site Walla. Police have said their investigation concluded that Netanyahu and Elovitch engaged in a "bribe-based relationship."

Police say they believe there is sufficient evidence to charge Netanyahu and his wife Sara with accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust. They also recommended charges be brought against Elovitch, members of his family and members of his Bezeq management team.

Police have previously recommended indicting Netanyahu on corruption charges in two other cases. One involves accepting gifts from billionaire friends, and the second revolves around alleged offers of advantageous legislation for a major newspaper in return for favorable coverage.

© Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Israel's attorney general is expected to deliver a much-anticipated decision Thursday on whether to indict Benjamin Netanyahu on a series of corruption allegations, a momentous move that looks to shake up Israel's election campaign and potentially spell the end of the prime...
ML,Israel,Netanyahu
536
2019-38-28
Thursday, 28 February 2019 03:38 AM
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