Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit will announce on Thursday evening if he intends to recommend charges against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in three corruption cases, the Justice Ministry said in a statement. Israel's leader has denied any wrongdoing.
Netanyahu could be charged with fraud and breach of trust in Case 1000, in which he and his family are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from wealthy donors.
He also faces charges in Case 4000, in which he stands accused of a quid pro quo arrangement that saw him provide regulatory benefits in exchange for positive news coverage.
The case - also known as the "Walla!-Bezeq affair" - is considered by police and the Israel Securities Authority as the gravest of the three cases.
Netanyahu is suspected of taking bribes and acting in a conflict of interest by promoting regulations worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Bezeq and its then-majority shareholder Shaul Elovitch, including Bezeq's merger with the satellite TV company Yes.
In return, the prime minister allegedly demanded—both directly and indirectly—to receive favorable coverage on Walla! News, which is owned by Bezeq.
In third investigation, known as Case 2000, Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth and Ynet owner Arnon Mozes allegedly discussed mutual assistance to promote one another's interests during private meetings that began in 2009 and lasted for several years.
As part of these talks, the two allegedly discussed the possibility of Mozes helping Netanyahu secure his position as prime minister through positive and favorable coverage in Yedioth Ahronoth. In return, the prime minister would aid Mozes to promote Yedioth's financial interests by initiating and supporting moves to weaken rival newspaper Israel Hayom.
Netanyahu took to Twitter early Thursday to argue that equating positive news coverage with a form of bribery would “remove Israel from the advanced countries that advocate freedom of expression and the press.”
Mandelblit announced earlier this year that he intended to charge Netanyahu with fraud and breach of trust in all three of the pending cases as well as bribery in Case 4000.
Other reports circulated suggesting the attorney general will announce the charges early next week.
But even if Netanyahu is indicted, the announcement does not likely spell the end of the saga ensnaring him and the electorate, given that his supporters contend he need only step down should he be found guilty.
First published: 17:05 , 11.21.19