Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Picture: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Picture: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN

Jerusalem — Israel’s attorney-general indicted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on corruption charges on Thursday, heightening uncertainty over who will ultimately lead a country mired in political chaos after two inconclusive elections in 2019.

Attorney-general Avichai Mandelblit announced the decision, the first of its kind against a serving Israeli prime minister, in a statement and said the charges include bribery, breach of trust and fraud.

Netanyahu, who has denied wrongdoing in three corruption cases, is under no legal obligation to resign after being charged. He is due to make a statement at 8.30pm GMT.

Police recommended in February that Mandelblit file criminal charges against the right-wing prime minister in the long-running investigations dubbed Cases 1,000, 2,000 and 4,000.

Netanyahu is suspected of wrongfully accepting $264,000 worth of gifts, which prosecutors said include cigars and Champagne, from tycoons and of dispensing favours in alleged bids for improved coverage by Israel’s biggest selling newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, and the Walla website.

Israel’s longest-serving premier could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of bribery and a maximum three-year term for fraud and breach of trust.

Reuters