The Justice Ministry says Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has decided that after several years of investigation, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will face charges in three corruption cases, including bribery in one of them, marking the first time Israel is led by a premier facing a criminal indictment.
Mandelblit rejected the arguments posed by Netanyahu’s attorneys in last month’s hearing, the ministry says in a statement.
In Case 4000, the most serious of the three cases, Netanyahu will face charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust for allegedly pushing regulatory decisions financially benefiting the controlling shareholder of the Bezeq telecommunications group, Shaul Elovitch, in return for ongoing changes in the coverage from Bezeq’s Walla news site to be more positive toward the prime minister.
In Case 1000, Netanyahu will be charged with fraud and breach of trust for allegedly receiving illicit gifts such as champagne, cigars and jewelry valued at some NIS 700,000 ($201,000) from billionaire benefactors Arnon Milchan and James Packer, and allegedly reciprocating in Milchan’s case with various forms of assistance.
In Case 2000, Netanyahu will be charged with fraud and breach of trust for allegedly agreeing with Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes to weaken a rival daily — the staunchly pro-Netanyahu Israel Hayom — in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth. The agreement was never implemented.
Netanyahu denies all wrongdoing and has frequently claimed that the investigations against him are a witch hunt and a conspiracy orchestrated by the media, the left, police and the state prosecution.