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Benjamin Netanyahu: Israel PM faces corruption charges

Israel’s attorney general intends to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on corruption charges.

Avichai Mandelblit said Mr Netanyahu would face charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in connection with three cases, pending a final hearing.

The prime minister is alleged to have accepted gifts from wealthy businessmen and dispensed favours to try to get more favourable press coverage.

Mr Netanyahu, who is facing an election in April, has denied any wrongdoing.

He has said he is the victim of a left-wing “witch-hunt” intended to topple him ahead of a closely contested general election on 9 April.

The prime minister will have an opportunity to make his case against the indictments at the final hearing, which is likely to take place after the election.

If his arguments are rejected, it will be the first time in Israel’s history that a sitting prime minister has faced criminal charges.

Opposition parties have said there is no way Mr Netanyahu should carry on as prime minister if that happens.

Mr Mandelblit has said the Supreme Court will determine whether he must resign.

Mr Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party has hit back with a strongly worded statement.

It dubbed the attorney general’s move “political persecution”.

“Unilateral publication of the attorney general’s announcement just a month before the elections, without giving the prime minister an opportunity to refute these false accusations, is a blatant and unprecedented intervention in the elections,” Likud said.