The decision to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for bribery, fraud and breach of was a heavy-hearted one, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said Thursday, after announcing that he would bring charges in the three corruption investigations into the veteran politician who has led the country for more than a decade.
"This is a difficult and sad day," Mandelblit told reporters. "Today, I informed the Prime Minister's Office of my decision to indict him on three counts. A day when the attorney general decides on an indictment against a prime minister for serious crimes is a difficult and sad day for the public in Israel - and for me personally."
Mandelblit previously served as Netanyahu's cabinet secretary.
"All of Israel's citizens, including myself, look up to our elected officials and foremost the prime minister, and view them as our democratically elected leaders," he said.
"Prime Minister Netanyahu is a privileged man. I have been privileged to work beside him and to see his many talents and abilities as prime minister. I made the decision to indict him with a heavy heart, but wholeheartedly."
"From a deep sense of commitment to the rule of law, to the public interest and to the citizens of Israel, law enforcement is not a choice," he said.
He rejected suggestions that the indictment was politically motivated.
"It's not a matter of right or left, it's not a matter of politics," he said.
"This is a duty bestowed upon us, and on me personally. It is my duty to the citizens of the state in which public interest demands that they live in a country where no one is above the law, a country where suspicions of corruption are probed and investigated for the sake of discovering the truth and exacting the law where required," he said.
"This is the most fundamental meaning of the rule of law in a democratic state. For this very reason, today is a difficult day, but also an important one," Mandelblit said.
He also angrily criticized pressure campaigns by both Netanyahu's supporters and opponents to sway his decision, which came after months of deliberations.
Netanyahu has called the corruption charges a witch hunt and repeatedly lashed out at police and prosecutors throughout the investigation.