Decision on Netanyahu indictments imminent: reports

Jerusalem: Israel’s attorney general is expected to announce later Thursday a decision on whether he intends to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on corruption charges, Israeli media reported.

The reports come with Netanyahu in the midst of a tough re-election campaign ahead of April 9 polls.

Under Israeli judicial procedures, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit would announce whether he intends to indict Netanyahu pending a hearing, where the prime minister would be given an opportunity to defend himself before charges are filed.

The justice ministry did not confirm the reports.

Some reports said Mandelblit would move to indict the prime minister for bribery, which a Netanyahu spokesman said would be “ridiculous” and “absurd”.

Netanyahu denies all allegations against him and calls the investigations a bid by his political enemies to force him from office.

Police have recommended his indictment in three different cases.

In one case, he is accused of pursuing regulatory benefits allegedly granted to telecommunications firm Bezeq in exchange for positive coverage from a related media company.

Another involves Netanyahu allegedly seeking a secret deal with the publisher of Israel’s top-selling newspaper Yediot Aharonot to ensure positive coverage in return for pushing forward a law that would have limited the circulation of a rival.

The third case involves suspicions the premier and his family received luxury gifts from wealthy individuals in exchange for financial or personal favours.

The 69-year-old has been prime minister for a total of around 13 years and he would be on track to surpass founding father David Ben-Gurion as Israel’s longest-serving premier should he win in April.

Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud party are facing a serious challenge from a centrist alliance led by respected former military chief of staff Benny Gantz.