Israeli prime minister faces indictment on corruption charges

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing indictment on corruption charges, as announced by Israel’s attorney-general on Thursday.

Benjamin Netanyahu indictment Source: Shutterstock

The Israeli prime minister faces corruption charges from three separate corruption investigations, pending a hearing.

Attorney general Avichai Mandelblit announced the charges against Netanyahu include, bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

Netanyahu is suspected of accepting $264,000 worth of gifts, which prosecutors said included cigars and champagne, from tycoons and providing favours in alleged bids for improved coverage by an Israeli newspaper and a website.

The Israeli prime minister is facing up to 10 years in prison if convicted of bribery and a maximum 3-year term for fraud and breach of trust.

Shekel weakens against the dollar

Israel's shekel weakened against the dollar off the back of the news, trading at $3.63 per dollar on Thursday down 0.4%.

National election

The allegations against Netanyahu come six weeks before a national election.

The hearing, where Netanyahu would have the opportunity to defend his case, could take place after the April 9 election.

He addressed the nation during prime-time TV news dismissing the criminal cases as a leftist ‘’witch-hunt’’ against him.

'The left understands that they will not beat me at the ballot box,' Netanyahu said. 'They exerted extraordinary pressure on the attorney general to issue an indictment even though there is nothing, in order to influence the elections and to crown a left-wing government.'

If indicted, Netanyahu would be under no legal requirement to resign from his leadership position.

US president Donald Trump, asked at a news conference on Thursday about Netanyahu's legal troubles, showed his support for the Israeli leader. ‘Well, I just think he has been a great prime minister,’ said Trump.

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