Tel Aviv [Israel], Nov 21: Benjamin Netanyahu will have to fight the case to remain prime minister while simultaneously dealing with the political deadlock which is pushing Israel for a third election,
The entire process of an indictment and trial could take two years.He would only be forced to resign from the post if he is eventually convicted, where he could face up to 10 years in prison or a fine for bribery charges alone, while fraud and breach of trust carry a prison sentence of up to three years, Israeli media reported.
Israel’s attorney general on Thursday has indicted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for bribery, fraud and breach of trust, bringing a new blow to the unstable and gridlocked country’s political landscape.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced that Benjamin Netanyahu will be charged with criminal wrongdoing in three separate cases against him, including bribery in the far-reaching Bezeq corruption probe.
Israeli prime minister becomes first sitting PM in Israel’s history to be charged with bribery in case involving quid-pro-quo with telecom tycoon.
“The attorney general’s decision on the prime minister was taken after a thorough and thorough examination of the numerous allegations raised by the prime minister’s lawyers during the four days of the hearing in early October 2019. All allegations were examined in depth as part of a regular work process deployed over many hours in which the State Attorney’s Office submitted in-depth reviews of hundreds of pages, relating to the allegations raised at the hearing,” The Times of Israel quoted the statement.
Netanyahu has vehemently denied all the allegations, calling the corruption investigation a “witch-hunt” and alleging it has been motivated by his enemies’ desire to force him from office. He will make a statement at 20:30 GMT.
The country is already mired in political chaos after two inconclusive elections this year and the country may head for a third election in a year.
Netanyahu has previously stated he would not resign if indicted. He is not legally required to do so unless convicted, a process that could take months or even years.
Some of his parliamentary allies have suggested they would back laws to grant him immunity if he remains the country’s leader.
Netanyahu’s Likud party called on party activists to rally outside the prime minister’s Jerusalem residence to express their support for him .
Mendelblit’s decision to indict came after agreeing with two police reports issued in 2018, which recommended that the prime minister be indicted in three affairs known as Case 1000, Case 2000 and Case 4000.
Mendelblit recommended that Netanyahu be indicted for fraud and breach of trust in cases 1000 and 2000, and bribery, fraud and breach of trust in Case 4000. He did so after consulting with more than 20 senior legal officials who scrutinized the evidence in the cases, some of which were under investigation for more than three years, .
Allegations against Netanyahu include suspicions that he accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars of champagne and cigars from billionaire friends, offered to trade favors with a newspaper publisher, and used his influence to help a wealthy telecom magnate in exchange for favorable coverage on a popular news site.
Netanyahu has called the allegations part of a witch hunt, lashing out against the media, police, prosecutors and the justice system.
Netanyahu’s predecessor, Ehud Olmert, stepped down before he was indicted on corruption charges a decade ago. Olmert later served 16 months in prison for fraud and bribery.