The Israeli attorney general's office intends to indict Benjamin Netanyahu in three corruption cases.

Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu

The announcement that the prime minister is to be indicted on corruption charges was expected [Sebastian Scheiner/Pool via Reuters]

Israel’s attorney general said on Thursday he intends to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in one case of bribe and two cases of fraud and breach of trust.

The long-awaited announcement marks the first time a sitting Israeli prime minister has been put on official notice of planned prosecution and deepens uncertainty over his prospects in a tight election race.

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Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said in a statement that he intended to charge the Israeli leader pending a hearing, where Netanyahu would be given a chance to defend himself before charges are filed.

The required hearing will likely be after the April 9 election.

Netanyahu is facing a tough challenge from a centrist political alliance headed by a respected former military chief of staff, Benny Gantz.

Netanyahu, who is seeking a fourth consecutive term, denies any wrongdoing.
His right-wing Likud party calls the reported charges “political persecution”.

“Unilateral publication of the attorney general’s announcement just a month before the elections, without giving the prime minister an opportunity to refute these false accusations, is a blatant and unprecedented intervention in the elections,” Likud said in a statement.

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