Less than six weeks before Israel’s general elections, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit decided Thursday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be charged with criminal wrongdoing in three separate cases against him, including bribery in the far-reaching Bezeq corruption probe, pending a hearing.
The decision marks the first time in Israel’s history that a serving prime minister has been told he faces criminal charges, and it may jeorardize Netanyahu’s re-election campaign. Netanyahu is currently seeking reelection in the April 9 elections against an opposition invigorated by the entry into politics of ex-IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz.
Netanyahu will be charged with fraud and breach of trust in Cases 1000 and 2000, and bribery in Case 4000.
Despite reported recommendations from the state attorney and police that the prime minister stand trial for bribery in all of the cases, Mandelblit opted for the lesser charge of fraud and breach of trust in two of the indictments.
Thursday’s announcement of the intention to indict the prime minister places Netanyahu’s legal situation front and center in the run-up to the election campaign.