TIME TO LAWYER UP
Yesterday, Israel's attorney general said he plans to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Seems kind of intense. What's he in trouble for?
For more than two years, there have been investigations into three separate allegations. Police recommended charges in all of those cases, but it's up to the AG to decide if Netanyahu should be indicted. Yesterday, the AG said there's enough to indict Netanyahu on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.
What kind of allegations are we talking about?
One…He allegedly received hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gifts to promote a tax break that would have benefited wealthy businessmen, including an Israeli Hollywood producer. The finance ministry apparently blocked the legislation.
Two…He allegedly discussed a plan to help a newspaper take down its competition in exchange for good press. The deal never went through.
Three…He allegedly got involved with an Israeli telecom company merger in exchange for positive coverage on its news site. This is the most serious allegation because it has to do with bribery.
What's Netanyahu's POV?
He denies all of the allegations. And says this is a witch hunt courtesy of his liberal opponents. Before a formal indictment, he gets a hearing to explain why he shouldn't be charged. That whole process could take months. If the AG presses charges, Netanyahu would be the first sitting PM in Israel to be indicted. Also, the timing has everyone a little stressed out.
Because the country's elections are less than 40 days away. And Netanyahu is running for his fourth consecutive term.
Is this going to hurt his chances?
Unclear. Netanyahu is still pretty popular in the country – weathering other controversies in the past. But some have indicated he should step aside. And if he's re-elected, some parties may not want to partner with his conservative party to form a coalition. Which could explain why Netanyahu partnered with a far-right party – something some see as an attempt to hold on to power.
Netanyahu is already one of the longest-serving PMs in Israel's history. Many consider him a stable force in an unstable region. But some think these allegations warrant a new leader that'll put Israel's best interests first – rather than their own. We'll find out what the voters think in April.
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