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Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu charged in corruption cases

Israel’s longtime leader Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday became the nation’s first sitting prime minister to be indicted after he was charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in connection with three separate corruption cases.

The charges were announced by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and come as Israel is locked in political stalemate following inconclusive elections in April and September. A third election in under a year may be on the verge of being called. 

The indictment alleges Netanyahu accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars of champagne and cigars from wealthy businessmen and was willing to trade favors with a newspaper publisher and telecom magnate for positive coverage in the press. 

“Law enforcement is not a choice. It is not a matter of left or right. It’s not a matter of politics,” Mandelblit said, in his announcement of the indictment. 

Netanyahu denies all the charges and has characterized the investigations into his alleged activities as a “witch hunt.” The indictment does not require him to resign. 

Israel settlements:Donald Trump proves he’s the ‘King of Israel’

In an echo of President Donald Trump’s dismissal of the impeachment inquiry over pressure he applied to Ukraine to investigate his Democratic political rival Joe Biden, Netanyahu has lashed out at media, police, prosecutors and the justice system.

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