The indictment does not require Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign. But I will raise pressure on him to step down.
On Thursday, Israel’s attorney general formally charged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a series of corruption cases. The move can throw country’s paralyzed political system into further disarray. Above all, it threatens the long-time leader’s grip on power.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, in a three-year investigation, charged Israeli Prime Minister with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in three different scandals. Interestingly, it is the first time that an incumbent Israeli prime minister is charged with a crime.
According to the indictment, Prime Minister Netanyahu accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars of champagne and cigars from billionaire friends. He is charged of providing trade favour to a newspaper publisher.
Not only this, he used his influence to help a wealthy telecom magnate in exchange for favorable coverage on a popular news site. Later on Thursday, Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit charged PM Netanyahu with these charges.
Along with the statement of Mandelbit, Netanyahu also issued a statement where he called the allegations part of a witch hunt. He lashed out against the media, police, prosecutors and the justice system as well.
Notably, the indictment does not require him to resign but is expected to raise pressure on him to step down.
The most serious charges against him concerns to a so-called “Case 4000.” In this case, he is accused of passing regulations that gave his friend, telecom magnate Shaul Elovitch, benefits worth over $250 million (Rs 17,93,91,00,000 roughly) to his company Bezeq.
In return, Bezeq’s news site, Walla, published pro-Netanyahu articles. It is said that the relationship, was “based on a mutual understanding that each of them had significant interests that the other side had the ability to advance”.
The indictment also accused Netanyahu of concealing the relationship by providing “partial and misleading information” about his connections with Elovitch. Two close aides to Netanyahu turned state’s witness and testified against him in the case.