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Associated Press

Israel Braces for Decision on Netanyahu Corruption Indictment

02-28-2019
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Benjamin Netanyahu AP 3
Benjamin Netanyahu AP 3

JERUSALEM, Israel -  Israel's attorney general Avichai Mandleblit is expected to announce Thursday that he will indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on charges of bribery and breach of trust in three ongoing investigations.  

In the most serious case, Netanyahu is suspected of firing Israel's communications ministry director in exchange for favorable coverage from Walla! News, one of Israel's top news sites.   

Some believe the potential charges reveal longstanding political corruption at the hands of Netanyahu while others believe they are frivolous and dangerous.  

Before Mandleblit's announcement, well-known American lawyer Alan Dershowitz wrote an open letter to the attorney general warning, "To bring down a duly elected prime minister on the basis of an expansive and unprecedented application of a broad and expandable criminal statute endangers democracy." 

The indictments would be subject to a hearing where Netanyahu can defend himself, a process that could take up to a year.  Netanyahu called the potential charges "absurd" and said, "the house of cards will come crashing down soon."  

The indictments also threaten Netanyahu's political future.  The current polls are so close that even if Netanyahu's Likud party lost a few seats because of these accusations, it could turn the tide of the upcoming election. The elections will be held on April 9th.   

President Donald Trump offered Netanyahu encouragement before the big announcement. 
  
"I just think he's been a great prime minister and I don't know about his difficulty but you tell me something people have been hearing about, but I don't know about that," he said in response to a question in Hanoi, where he was holding a summit with the leader of North Korea.
  
"I can say this: that he's done a great job as prime minister. He's tough, he's smart, he's strong," Trump said.

The Likud gave filed a last-minute request to have the indictment announcement postponed until after Israel's national elections. 

However, the High Court of Justice rejected the petition to delay the decision. 

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