Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was formally indicted on charges of corruption on Tuesday, after he withdrew a request for parliamentary immunity from prosecution. The charges were filed while Netanyahu was in Washington meeting with US President Donald Trump ahead of the release of the President’s Israel-Palestine plan.
In a Facebook statement, Netanyahu said that he did not want to participate in a parliamentary immunity process that he claimed would have been a “circus.” The Knesset, Israel’s parliament, was widely expected to deny the immunity request.
Netanyahu is charged with bribery for allegedly influencing regulatory decisions in favor of a telecom giant in exchange for positive coverage on their subsidiary news site.
The 70-year-old PM also faces charges of fraud and breach of trust for allegedly accepting gifts and benefits from business executives in exchange for political favors. He faces additional fraud and breach of trust charges for allegedly agreeing with a major newspaper publisher to promote a bill restricting circulation of the paper’s main competitor, in exchange for positive coverage.
The favors allegedly granted by Netanyahu are worth hundreds of millions of dollars in total. He could face up to 10 years in prison for conviction of the bribery charge, and up to three years for the fraud and breach of trust charges.
Netanyahu’s political opponents are likely to make the PM’s legal troubles a focal point of the upcoming parliamentary election on March 2. Benny Gantz, the leader of the Blue and White party (the main opposition to Netanyahu’s Likud party) said in a statement that “Nobody could run a country and simultaneously manage three serious criminal charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.”