Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu faces corruptions charges


With elections coming up in April, Netanyahu denied all claims against him, blaming accusations on the opposition's attempts to put someone else in office: "The Left knows they can not compete with these achievements in the voting booth, so they put massive pressure on the attorney general to indict even though there is nothing, in order to influence the elections and put the Left in charge".

The announcement comes ahead of April 9 elections in which Netanyahu is facing a tough challenge from a centrist political alliance headed by a respected former military chief of staff, Benny Gantz. "Police have said their investigation concluded that Netanyahu and Elovitch engaged in a 'bribe-based relationship'".

However, Netanyahu's Likud party dismissed corruption allegations against him as "political persecution" after media reported that the attorney general was set to move to indict him for bribery. He has been serving as prime minister for a decade.

"I can say this: that he's done a great job as prime minister".

He is suspected of wrongfully accepting gifts from wealthy businessmen and dispensing favours in alleged bids for favourable coverage by a newspaper and a website.

An increasingly desperate Netanyahu last week agreed a votes-for-power pact with two of Israel's most fringe far-right parties, including Jewish Power, whose members worship the radical rabbi Meir Kahane, who advocated the forcible deportation of non-Jews from Israel.

The Israeli premier is to be given the opportunity to argue against being indicted at a hearing before any charges are brought forward.

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Netanyahu has also come under fire, both in Israel and overseas, for forming a partnership with the political heirs of an ultranationalist party that was banned for its racist views toward Arabs.

In December, Israeli police recommended that Mr Netanyahu be indicted for bribery and fraud and breach of trust, with Mr Mandelblit left to make a final decision on whether to press charges. If he wins in the upcoming election and is also charged by the Attorney General, Netanyahu may be forced to stand trial while running the government or resign to avoid the spectacle. The announcement of possible criminal charges could see Netanyahu's popularity fall. Mrs. Netanyahu has been indicted for graft, fraud and breach of trust for allegedly overspending more than $100,000 in public funds on private meals at their official residence.

In case 2000, the alleged deal between the prime minister and Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Noni Mozes, Mandelblit ruled that Netanyahu will be charged with breach of trust subject to a hearing.

Netanyahu earlier in the day received support from US President Donald Trump, who defended his Israeli ally in remarks after his summit in Hanoi with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump said the United States' relationship with Israel is "probably the best ... that we ever had".

In a Justice Ministry statement, Mandelblit says he plans to charge Netanyahu with bribery for promoting regulatory changes worth hundreds of millions of dollars to telecom giant Bezeq in return for positive press coverage in Bezeq's popular subsidiary news site Walla.