03/01/2019, 10.00
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Israeli premier risks indictment on corruption and fraud

The Attorney General Mandelblit intends to request the indictment. The security questioning and the electoral session risk creating a political and institutional short-circuit. Netanyahu defends himself by attacking: a "witch hunt" of political origin, a "house of cards" destined to collapse.

Tel Aviv (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A "witch hunt" of a political nature, with the sole aim of depriving it of power and forcing it to abandon its position. Thus Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented on news of his possible indictment on charges of corruption, fraud and abuse of trust.

The Prime Minister was responding to the judicial inquiry that could topple him and endanger his political career by counterattacking; he denounces a plot orchestrated by police, prosecutors and judicial institutions on the instigation of the left and the media.

Yesterday, attorney general Avichai Mandelblit informed the head of the government that he intends to request  indictment, in relations with three different events of (alleged) corruption. For the first time in the history of the country a premier in charge is put under investigation, even if a possible trial will take time to prepare. In fact, Netanyahu must be granted a security questioning, after which the prosecutor must confirm his intention to proceed.

In the event of an indictment, the oppositions have already indicated that Netanyahu will have to resign from the position of Prime Minister. For Mandelblit, the Supreme Court is the competent body and it will have to decide on the legitimacy of the process. The supreme judges have already rejected a petition from Likud, which accused the left of "conspiracy" and "bullying" against the head of the executive and the investigation an "interference of the vote".

Moreover, the request for indictment is destined to have serious repercussions on the electoral campaign in view of the 9 April political elections. Netanyahu is looking for the fourth term - which would see he overtake the same founding father of the country David Ben Gurion - but will have to fight against the new center party of the former chief of staff Benny Gantz and his ally Yair Lapid.

The Prime Minister is accused among others of having pocketed goods and gifts for almost 270 thousand dollars in branded cigars and champagne, in exchange for political favors. In the second line of investigation, he passed regulations favorable to the telecommunications company Bezeq, in exchange for positive press coverage. Finally, he is accused of having benefited from flattering articles and reports on his work and on the family of Yedioth Ahronot, the country's best-selling newspaper, in exchange for oppressive and discriminating measures against a rival media.

He risks convictions ranging from three to 10 years in prison.

In the face of accusations Netanyahu has taken to television to defend himself and counterattack, denouncing a "witch hunt" to eliminate him. "I intend to serve you - he told the public - and the country as Prime Minister for many years. But it depends on you ". The investigations, he concluded, are a "hourse of cards destined to collapse". US President Donald Trump has come to his rescue, confirming "support to Israel's leader" who is "a great one".

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