Netanyahu charged with corruption
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.
WRONGFULLY ACCEPTED GIFTS
“It is an attempted coup based on fabrications and a tainted and biased investigative process,” Netanyahu said in a televised speech. “I will continue to lead the country, according to the letter of the law, with responsibility, devotion and concern for all of our futures,” he said, standing at a podium against the backdrop of four Israeli flags in his official residence.
Netanyahu is suspected of wrongfully accepting $264,000 worth of gifts, including champagne and cigars, from wealthy businessmen in one case. In another, he is accused of dispensing favors in return for favorable stories about him in Israel’s biggest selling newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth.
In the most serious case, he is accused of granting regulatory favors worth about 1.8 billion shekels (about $500 million) to Israel’s leading telecoms company, Bezeq Telecom Israel, (BEZQ.TA) in return for positive coverage on a website owned by its former chairman.
“They weren’t after the truth, they were after me,” Netanyahu said in his address, a note of emotion in what was otherwise a speech mixing anger with accusations. “What I’m going through is not easy. I’m a human being, too. What my family is going through is unbearable. Every day, every evening, my blood and the blood of my wife and son are being spilled.”