File - In this Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019 file photo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem. Israel's Justice Ministry says the attorney general will deliver his long-awaited decision on whether to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a series of corruption cases.(AP Photo/Oded Balilty, pool, File)

Israel’s Netanyahu charged in corruption cases

November 21, 2019 - 11:45 am

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s attorney general on Thursday formally charged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a series of corruption cases, throwing the country’s paralyzed political system into further disarray and threatening the long-time leader’s grip on power.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit charged Netanyahu with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in three different scandals. It is the first time a sitting Israeli prime minister has been charged with a crime. Mandelblit was set to issue a formal statement later Thursday.

Allegations against Netanyahu include suspicions he accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars of champagne and cigars from billionaire friends, offered to trade favors with a newspaper publisher and used his influence to help a wealthy telecom magnate in exchange for favorable coverage on a popular news site.

The indictment does not require Netanyahu to resign but is expected to raise pressure on him to step down.

Netanyahu has called the allegations part of a witch hunt, lashing out against the media, police, prosecutors and the justice system.

Netanyahu was scheduled to issue a statement later Thursday.

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