Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit charged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in connection with three separate cases.
The announcement was made at a press conference in Jerusalem on Thursday.
Mandelblit said he made the decision “with a heavy heart”, but claimed it was in the public interest. “Law enforcement is not a choice. It is not a matter of right or left,” he said.
Netanyahu is accused of accepting gifts from businessmen in exchange for favourable press coverage.
The Israeli prime minister denies the charges and said they were part of a political ‘witch-hunt’ to remove him from power. He has insisted he will not resign and is not legally obliged to do so.
Netanyahu is charged in connection with three cases – known as Case 1,000, Case 2,000, and Case 4,000.
Case 1,000: The prime minister is alleged to have received expensive gifts from a friend in exchange for favours.
Case 2000: Netanyahu is accused of striking a deal with a publisher of major newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth in return for favourable coverage.
Case 4,000: This is considered the most serious of the three, as Netanyahu is charged with bribery, as well as fraud and breach of trust. He is accused of promoting regulatory decisions that benefitted a leading telecommunications company (Bezeq) in exchange for positive news coverage from one of its websites.