Israel’s Attorney General Slaps Formal Indictment Against Netanyahu

© REUTERS / Ronen ZvulunIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the media at the Knesset
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the media at the Knesset - Sputnik International
The indictment arrived amid an ongoing political crunch in the country, where doubt has been cast on the prime minister’s potential immunity as he is negotiating a coalition with adversarial politician Benny Gantz.

The Israeli attorney general has officially submitted his indictment against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with the PM being given 30 days for an immunity appeal.

The lengthy 77-page document charges the sitting head of the Israeli government with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in three separate corruption cases – the first time that a prime minister has faced criminal charges while still in power.

Israeli politics has reached an apparently unsolvable dead end in the wake of the second inconclusive national vote of the year, with Netanyahu deemed unlikely to receive parliamentary immunity due to dysfunctional parliament and staunch opposition to him.

According to the indictment files, Netanyahu, who denies any wrongdoing and has refused to resign over the charges, will face trial in a Jerusalem court. The document also names 333 witnesses that the prosecution may summon to testify at the trial.

Netanyahu has been blaming what he calls the left-wing media and the flawed judiciary system, accusing them of a witch hunt as several factions, including the Joint Arab List and Avigdor Lieberman's Israel Beitenu Party, have already vowed not to give Netanyahu immunity.

Israel's Attorney General Avichai Mandelblitt has said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can remain at his post, irrespective of the growing pressure from opposition circles for the PM to step down. More specifically, Tel Aviv's Habima Square the other day saw as many as 5,000 protesters demanding that Netanyahu resign.

Meanwhile, coalition talks between Netanyahu’s Likud and his heavyweight rival Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party stalled with no positive outcome, just days before the Israeli parliament is to be dissolved if there is no agreement. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has meanwhile given the Knesset 21 days to form a coalition.

According to Israeli legislation, any member who wins a parliamentary majority during the period, which will last until 11 December, will assume the position of prime minister. If no majority is gained by any of the two, the law requires that the Knesset be dissolved, with Israel facing a third vote in a row.

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