Israel AG to indict PM Netanyahu for corruption

Netanyahu orders Likud to stop using dead soldiers in Gantz attacks

Israel's Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has informed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he intends to indict him on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in connection with three cases known as 1,000, 2,000 and 4,000, pending a final hearing.

JERUSALEM - Israel's attorney general was expected to deliver a much-anticipated decision Thursday on whether to indict Benjamin Netanyahu on a series of corruption allegations, a momentous move that looks to shake up Israel's election campaign and potentially spell the end of the prime minister's illustrious political career.

Netanyahu, who rejects all accusations, and his right-wing Likud party called the allegations "political persecution". The process is expected to take many months and be completed long after the 9 April election.

"While the numbers we have tested don't look good for him at this stage, it's very hard to establish beforehand what would happen if people see the prime minister in that situation", Davies said. Elovitch, a close friend of the Israeli leader, is alleged to have ordered the Walla news site to provide more favorable coverage of the Netanyahus in return.

Opinion polls have shown a tight race for Mr Netanyahu, with sharp gains for a centre-left alliance that could score an upset over Mr Netanyahu's Likud party.

The prime minister himself has accused the entire thing of being a plot by his political opponents.

Mr Netanyahu scheduled a press conference later on Thursday to respond to the attorney general's decision.

Already, Gantz said in a statement on Thursday evening he would not join Netanyahu in any future coalition government, given the possible corruption indictment.

Netanyahu has been prime minister for a total of around 13 years and he would be on track to surpass founding father David Ben-Gurion as Israel's longest-serving premier should he win in April. Police allege that the prime minister accepted "gifts" from billionaires, had a "bribe-based" relationship with Israeli tech giant Bezeq and offered legislation that would have benefited one of the biggest newspapers in the country in exchange for positive coverage, NBC News reported.

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.

Under Israeli law, Netanyahu is not required to step down if he is indicted.

Polish Prmie Minister Mateusz Morawiecki welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before their meeting in Warsaw, Poland, 14 February 2019.

At the hearing with Mandelblit, the 69-year-old Netanyahu can cite the public interest in arguing against an indictment. "He's tough, he's smart, he's strong", Trump said in Hanoi, where he was holding a summit with the leader of North Korea. Netanyahu called the potential charges "absurd" and said, "the house of cards will come crashing down soon".

Mandelblit outlined the case against the prime minister in a letter to Netanyahu's attorneys, which stated that the indictment would relate to three of the four cases: 1000, 2000 and 4000.

In the statement from his official residence that lasted about 20 minutes, Netanyahu's voice seemed to break with emotion as he spoke of his family, which he said had been smeared by the investigations.

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