Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu faces corruptions charges

Mar 01, 2019, 01:13
Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu faces corruptions charges

"The main thing was to influence the elections, even if we know that this house of cards will completely collapse after the elections".

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 exhausted of his lengthy rule tainted by long-standing accusations of corruption and hedonism.

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.

Israeli TV reported this afternoon that the country's attorney general intends to indict Mr Netanyahu following a series of long-running investigations.

His voice brimming with indignation as he addressed the nation during prime-time TV news, Netanyahu dismissed the three criminal cases as a political "witch-hunt" created to oust him. "He's tough, he's smart, he's strong".

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U.S. President Donald Trump, asked at a news conference earlier on Thursday about Netanyahu's legal troubles, voiced support for the Israeli leader.

Alan Dershowitz, a prominent American lawyer, has come to Netanyahu's defence, publishing an open letter to Mandelblit in which he warns that an indictment against the prime minister ahead of elections would undermine the democratic process.

His party, Likud, has called the charges "Political persecution". The attorney general has indicated that he does not plan to press charges against the prime minister's wife.

Second, he's facing more possible breach of trust and fraud charges charge - for trying to strike a deal with a newspaper publisher to advance legislation to help the publisher's business, in exchange for giving Netanyahu positive media coverage.

During two years of intense deliberations and questionings, police have already recommended that Netanyahu, 69, be indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in all three cases.

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

CASE 1000 alleges that Netanyahu wrongfully received gifts from Arnon Milchan, a prominent Hollywood producer and Israeli citizen, and Australian billionaire businessman James Packer, including champagne and cigars.

In one case, Netanyahu is accused of pursuing regulatory benefits allegedly granted to telecommunications firm Bezeq in exchange for positive coverage from a related media company.

Mr Mandelblit's statement said there was a unanimous opinion among investigators that the relationship between Mr Netanyahu and the Elovitches constituted bribery.

However most feel it will do Netanyahu irreversible damage, given that the juiciest details gleaned from the Israeli Police investigations are still to emerge in the Israeli press - a fate journalists know to be inevitable.

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Supporters admire his articulate and tenacious defence of Israel's security, and diplomatic achievements that eluded predecessors, including the transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem a year ago.