Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to be indicted for corruption either later Thursday or Sunday. The move follows a four-day pre-indictment hearing in October in which Netanyahu’s legal team tried to persuade Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit to drop the charges against him.
If indicted, Netanyahu will face dual challenges: Fighting to remain prime minister while grappling with the frustrating political deadlock that appears to be leading Israel to a third election in the space of a year.
The two issues are deeply intertwined: One of the main roadblocks to the formation of a governing coalition was the refusal of Netanyahu’s potential partners in a unity government to serve as ministers in a government led by a prime minister under criminal indictment.
It was in February, ahead of the year’s first national election in April, when Mendelblit first announced he had decided to indict Netanyahu for fraud, bribery and breach of trust in three criminal cases, pending the hearings that were ultimately held in October.
Mendelblit’s initial decision to indict came after examining — and agreeing with — two police reports issued in 2018, which recommended that the prime minister be indicted in three affairs known as Case 1000, Case 2000 and Case 4000.
Mendelblit recommended that Netanyahu be indicted for fraud and breach of trust in cases 1000 and 2000, and bribery and breach of trust in Case 4000. He did so after consulting with more than 20 senior legal officials who scrutinized the evidence in the cases, some of which were under investigation for more than three years.
His final decision came after hearing, considering and — it seems — rejecting the arguments made by Netanyahu’s attorneys in the pre-indictment hearing, in which his legal team attempted to dispute and refute the evidence and analysis in the report that accompanied the state’s decision to indict.
Netanyahu’s hearing and the subsequent indictment announcement were postponed as a result of the two elections held since the police recommendation was issued, in April and September.