In a decision that drastically shakes up Israeli politics amid already ongoing chaos, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced Thursday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be charged with criminal wrongdoing in three separate cases against him, including bribery in the far-reaching Bezeq corruption probe.
The decision marks the first time in Israel’s history that a serving prime minister faces criminal charges, casting a heavy shadow over Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, and his ongoing attempts to remain in power.
According to the full indictment released by the Justice Ministry, Netanyahu will be charged with fraud and breach of trust in Cases 1000 and 2000, and bribery, fraud and breach of trust in Case 4000, the state prosecution said in a statement.
Netanyahu said later Thursday he was the victim of an attempted coup. He said he would not resign but would, rather, continue to lead Israel “in accordance with the law.”
Mandelblit is expected to formally inform Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein about his decision to indict the prime minister in the coming days. From that moment on, Netanyahu has 30 days to decide whether he wants to ask the Knesset for parliamentary immunity. The fact that the Knesset House Committee — which handles immunity matters — is not currently functioning complicates the process, and it is not immediately clear how Israel’s political deadlock will affect the process by which the state prosecution would otherwise move toward formally filing the charges in the Jerusalem District Court. [Continue reading…]