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Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been the Prime Minister of Israel for the last 10 years has been charged by the Israeli Justice Ministry with corruption. This marks the first time in Israel’s 70-year-history that a prime minister is under indictment.
This development threatens to end the 70-year-old prime minister’s career (which was already in a precarious position due to the failure of Netanyahu’s Likud party to create a coalition government in the Israeli parliament). The corruption charges were levelled against Netanyahu by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who told reporters that it was a “heavy-hearted decision” according to the Associated Press.
Among the charges is one in which he allegedly implemented regulation for a telecom company in exchange for favourable coverage of himself on popular Israeli news site Walla! News.
Other fraud and breach of trust charges deal with Netanyahu allegedly introducing legislation that would damage one of a newspaper’s major rivals in exchange for the paper giving friendly coverage to Netanyahu. Both the prime minister and the newspaper publisher deny the charges.
The prime minister is also facing bribery charges related to receiving approximately $300,000 U.S. from an Australian billionaire and a Hollywood producer. The gifts include jewellery cigars and champagne, which Netanyahu claims were just gifts between friends.
In response to the indictments, Netanyahu said that he would “continue to lead the country.” He claimed during a televised address that “the tainted investigation didn’t pursue the truth. It pursued me,” and “It’s a case of selective enforcement on steroids.”