Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday he would not resign despite being charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in a corruption scandal that he denounced as an “attempted coup”.
The charges announced by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit were the first of their kind against a serving Israeli prime minister and represented the gravest crisis in the political career of Israel’s longest-serving leader.
Netanyahu, in power continuously since 2009 and before that in the 1990s, has dominated Israeli politics for a generation, decisively turning the country to the right. He has denied wrongdoing in the three graft cases, saying he is the victim of a political witch hunt.
He is under no legal obligation to resign. But the indictment could further embolden challengers trying to dislodge him after two inconclusive elections since April, with a third election expected to be announced within weeks.
Conviction on the charges could bring a lengthy jail term. But any trial could be delayed for months by the political crisis, and Netanyahu could try to secure parliamentary immunity from prosecution.