Netanyahu indicted in court on corruption charges

Israel’s attorney general has filed a formal indictment in court against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

It came after Mr Netanyahu withdrew a request for parliamentary immunity from prosecution on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in connection with three separate cases.

He has denied any wrongdoing.

The Israeli parliament had been due to open a debate on the immunity request on Tuesday. But Mr Netanyahu said he would not have got a fair hearing.

He also criticised opponents for going ahead with the debate when US President Donald Trump was due to unveil his long-awaited Middle East peace plan.

On Wednesday, Mr Netanyahu left for Moscow to brief Russian President Vladimir Putin on the plan, Israeli officials said.

Israel’s longest serving prime minister is accused of accepting gifts from wealthy businessmen and dispensing favours to try to get more positive press coverage. He says he is the victim of a politically motivated “witch hunt”.

In a Facebook post published on Tuesday morning, Mr Netanyahu said he had informed the speaker of parliament, which is known as the Knesset, of his decision to withdraw his request for immunity.

“At this fateful hour for the people of Israel, while I am in the US on a historic mission to shape Israel’s permanent borders and ensure our security for future generations, another Knesset show is expected to open in the immunity circus.”

He added: “Since I was not given due process, because all the rules of Knesset work were trampled on, and since the results of the procedure were pre-dictated without proper discussion, I decided not to let this dirty game continue.”

Hours after the announcement, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit filed a 78-page indictment to the Jerusalem District Court.

The court will now set a date for the start of Mr Netanyahu’s trial.

-BBC

Benjamin Netanyahu

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