AG Mandelblit Announces Bribery, Breach of Trust Charges Against PM Netanyahu

Saul Bowman
March 1, 2019

The attorney general said he meant to indict Netanyahu, 69, for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in that case. The first 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.

The charges, which will be filed after a hearing, have emerged from a two-year triple-pronged corruption investigation into Netanyahu, who is now seeking his fifth term in office.

"Is it best for the country to be governed by a leader charged with serious criminal acts of corruption, or is it best for him to resign and focus on proving his innocence in the courts?" the institute said in a statement.

The charges will likely be pressed following a pretrial hearing that will take place shortly after the Israeli elections on April 9, and there is still a possibility that Netanyahu's lawyers could present new evidence to avoid prosecution.

Avichai Mandelblit said overnight he has accepted the police recommendations to file charges against Netanyahu in three different cases, pending a final hearing.

In a last-ditch effort to prevent the public release of an indictment, Mr Netanyahu's Likud party petitioned the Supreme Court to have it delayed until after the elections. "Police have said their investigation concluded that Netanyahu and Elovitch engaged in a 'bribe-based relationship'".

Mr Mandelblit also filed breach of trust charges in two other cases.

With the indictment, however, and the prospect of a sitting prime minister standing trial, the election has become a referendum on Netanyahu as he seeks to become the longest serving premier in Israeli history.

Netanyahu rushed back to Israel after Wednesday's meetings to prepare for Mandelblit's indictment announcement.

The long-awaited announcement will further shake up the turbulent political campaign and threaten Netanyahu's lengthy tenure at the top of Israeli politics.

US President Donald Trump, asked about Mr Netanyahu's legal troubles, voiced support for the right-wing leader.

In his statement on Thursday, the prime minister touted what he has achieved for the country: noting the strong economy and ties with world powers that he has cultivated over the last decade.

CASE 4000 alleges that Netanyahu granted regulatory favors to Israel's leading telecommunications company, Bezeq Telecom Israel, in return for positive coverage on a news website controlled by the company's former chairman.

In case 1000, the gifts affair, the prime minister will be charged with breach of trust subject to a hearing.

The right wing parties realize that their electorate expects them to support the prime minister and have already begun to toe the party line.

Bribery charges carry a sentence of up to 10 years in jail and/or a fine. "We have a good shot at peace between Israel and the Palestinians".

Mr Netanyahu, 69, has denied any wrongdoing in the three long-running corruption investigations against him.

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