Attorney General charges PM Netanyahu with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust:
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced on Thursday that Netanyahu would be charged with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in cases 1000, 2000, and 4000. The cases against Netanyahu have been ongoing. In October, a series of hearings were held to determine the validity of the cases, after which the Attorney General and his team spent the last month determining whether to charge Netanyahu.
This is the first time a Prime Minister has been charged with a crime. In case 1000, he is charged with receiving illegal gifts in exchange for political favors. In case 2000 he is charged with pushing favorable legislation for a newspaper in exchange for positive news coverage, and in case 4000 he is charged with taking a series of actions that benefited an Israel communications company in exchange for positive news coverage.
In response to the indictment, Netanyahu insisted that something “wrong” was happening against him from the police and from the attorney general, and said he will not step down as Prime Minister. He is required by law to give up his ministerial posts, however,
Blue and White party leader called it a “very sad day” for Israel, and the party announced that they will refuse to form a coalition with Netanyahu.
Israel poised for a third election this year:
After Benny Gantz was unable to form a coalition, and especially following the indictment against Netanyahu, the chances of forming a government without returning to elections for the third time this year have all but disappeared. Following Gant’s failure, there is a period of 21 days, which began Thursday, in which any Knesset member can form a government if they can secure support from a majority of Knesset members. All major party members have vowed to do everything they can to avoid elections.
Netanyahu at risk of losing head-of-party status:
Top Likud MKs are pushing for primary elections for the party, if Israel goes to a third election as expected. The primary election would determine who would lead Likud, which would then determine who from Likud would potentially become Prime Minister if Likud gets the mandate to form the government again. Many consider former interior and education minister Gideon Sa’ar to be the most logical successor to Netanyahu. On Thursday afternoon, even before the announcement to indict Netanyahu was given, Sa’ar said that Likud should hold primary elections, and that if he wins, he will succeed where Netanyahu failed, and will be able to unite the country and form a government.