Currents News Staff
Benjamin Netanyahu will become the first Israeli prime minister indicted while serving in office.
The Attorney General has announced his final decision to indict Netanyahu on three charges of corruption, and the current political stalemate means that it is not exactly clear what happens next.
Benjamin Netanyahu suffered his biggest blow as prime minister — this one not political — but legal.
The first sitting prime minister to face criminal indictment in Israel’s history, Netanyahu was defiant
“This evening, we are witnessing a governmental coup attempt against a prime minister by false libel and with a tenacious and contaminated investigation process,” he said.
The 70-year-old leader has spent years fighting against this very moment and proclaiming his innocence. Ever since the criminal investigations were made public nearly three years ago,
Netanyahu has railed against them, calling them a media-fueled witch hunt and an attempt to topple him through the justice system when they couldn’t beat him at the polls.
“The time has come to investigate the investigators. It is time to investigate the prosecution that approves these contaminated investigations,” Netanyahu said.
Israel’s longest-serving prime minister is now facing charges in three cases.
In case 4000, prosecutors say Netanyahu advanced regulatory benefits for a friend who is a multi-millionaire businessman. Those benefits were worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
In exchange, prosecutors say Netanyahu received favorable news coverage from a news site owned by that businessman. In this case Netanyahu faces the more serious charge of bribery, as well as the charge of fraud and breach of trust.
In case 2000, prosecutors say Netanyahu was working on an arrangement with the owner of one of Israel’s largest papers, Yedioth Ahronoth. Netanyahu sought more favorable news coverage in exchange for limiting the circulation of the paper’s rival.
Netanyahu also faces a charge of fraud and breach of trust in this case.
Finally, In case 100, prosecutors say Netanyahu received valuable gifts such as cigars and champagnes from overseas businessmen — gifts they say a public servant should not have received.
Netanyahu again faces a charge of fraud and breach of trust.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit called it a very sad day for Israel, but rejected any idea that this was a political decision against the prime minister.
“This is not an issue of right or left. It’s not a matter of politics,” he said. “This is a duty that everyone has to obey. This is my duty towards the public that everyone will live in a state where any accusation of illegality is going to be checked and investigated.”
Netanyahu’s rival, former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, called on him to step down.
He said of Netanyahu: “He is well aware that the grave and complex challenges facing the state of Israel, both in terms of security and the societal and economic areas, require a prime minister able to invest his full time, energy and attention.”
Netanyahu failed to form a government twice: first after April’s elections, and then again after September’s elections.
For months Israel has been stuck in political deadlock, one that now protects Netanyahu.
As long as no one can form a government, he remains Prime Minister.