Jerusalem / Israel’s attorney general on Thursday said he would indict the country’s prime minister for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in what looks set to be the first time a serving head of government has faced criminal charges.
Benjamin Netanyahu, who was in his 10th consecutive year in office having previously served another three, the second-longest time held by an Israeli PM to date, faced charges related to gifts he allegedly received from billionaires for political favors, as well as suspected dirty dealings with media in exchange for positive coverage.
General Attorney Avichai Mandelblit said he would decide to indict Netanyahu, 69, in a move that comes just weeks before Israelis vote in a general election.
Netanyahu has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and has labeled the case against him a witch hunt.
The prime minister’s spokesman, Ofer Golan, had previously issued a statement labeling charges as “an absurd step, which is unprecedented in the annals of the history of the courts.”
The head of the Israeli government returned from Moscow, where he had traveled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in order to hear the final decision.
The conservative Likud Party chairman was the subject of three criminal investigations, named case 1000, case 2000 and case 3000.
Case 1000 investigated whether Netanyahu and his family accepted lavish gifts from billionaire Israeli businessman and film producer Arnon Milchan and Australian magnate James Packer in exchange for political favors.
The gifts, thought to be worth $300,000, allegedly included bottles of pink champagne, boxes of cigars, jewelry for Netanyahu’s wife Sara, concerts, plane tickets and upscale stays in five-star hotels.
In return, Netanyahu allegedly oversaw the approval of a law to limit tax rates for Israelis returning from abroad, which would benefit Milchan, as well as help securing United States visas and a foot-up in the Israeli TV market.
Case 2000 related to accusations Netanyahu struck a deal with the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper for favorable coverage in exchange for hurting its competition.
Case 4000 focused on allegations that during his time as both head of government and communications minister Netanyahu negotiated with telecommunications company Bezeq, owned by Shaul Elovitch, for favorable coverage for both him and his wife.
It is alleged that, in exchange, he facilitated the company’s takeover of TV channel Yes.
Netanyahu would still be able to run in the Apr. 9 elections, although Israeli media polling suggested he could lose enough seats to make forming a coalition difficult.
The case could halt Netanhayu’s bid to become Israel’s longest-serving government leader. (February 28, 2019, EFE/Practica Español)
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Lee la noticia y responde a las preguntas. (Read the news and answer the questions.)
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