Benjamin Netanyahu indicted on fraud, breach of trust and bribery
Tuesday 3rd December 2019 | Jake
Benjamin Netanyahu has become the first sitting prime minister in Israel’s history to be charged with committing a crime. Facing criminal charges of breach of trust, bribery, and fraud and between 3 or more years in prison, Netanyahu rejected the Israeli attorney general’s decision to charge him almost as soon as it was been made. The full indictment was publicly announced on November 21st.
Israel’s attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, found Netanyahu guilty in all three corruption cases he is currently being investigated on. The 63-page indictment reveals the controversial prime minister had accepted luxury gifts from billionaire pals and seemingly traded favours with media companies in return for positive news coverage. Mandelblit told the media it was “a heavy and sad day, for the Israeli public and for me personally,” when a sitting prime minister is indicted.
The political future of the deeply divisive Netanyahu appears doomed. He is not required by Israeli law to resign until he is full convicted, and that could take upto 2-3 years. If found guilty of the charges, he could face up a maximum of 10 years in prison on just the bribery charge. It also looks likely that members of his family will soon be charged with similar crimes.
The first hurdle the Israel legislature faces is forming a House Committee to process Netanyahu’s objection to the charges. There is currently no House Committee because of the inconclusive elections which leaving no actual ruling party or coalition able to form the committee. A conclusive election will happen soon, but even then the process of Netanyahu’s indictment could take years before a conviction is passed down and he’s fully sentenced. Even if it looks like the charges are genuine and fully backed by legitimate evidence, which it does currently, the chances are that Netanyahu will resign as Israeli PM before his full conviction.
After being indicted, Netanyahu called the cases brought against him an “attempted coup”, suggesting the indictment was both illegal and that he’d put up a fight. All eyes are now on the elections there, where Netanyahu’s Likud party have already been suffering for his alleged crimes, with a scramble over leadership of the party well and truly under way.
Soon after the elections which look likely to go into an unprecedented third election as Israeli political parties struggle to form a coalition, attention will turn to when court dates will be set to secure the still sitting Israeli PM's conviction or innocence.
Besides the role of Israeli PM, Netanyahu serves as the health, social welfare, and diaspora minster for Israel, as well as acting agriculture minister.