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Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to be indicted on corruption charges, attorney general says

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Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to be indicted on corruption charges, attorney general says
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Ariel Schalit/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
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Israel's attorney general said on Thursday he plans to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on corruption charges.

The actual filing of the charges, which include bribery, fraud and breach of trust, will depend on the outcome of a required hearing.

At that hearing — which could take place after Israel's April 9 election — Netanyahu can try to persuade the attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, not to indict him.

In long-running investigations, Netanyahu is suspected of wrongfully accepting gifts from wealthy businessmen and dispensing favours in alleged bids for positive coverage by a newspaper and a website.

Netanyahu denounces a 'witch hunt'

In a press conference, the prime minister denied the allegations and denounced "an unprecedented witch hunt intended to topple the right-wing government."

Netanyahu told reporters the indictment was an attempt to influence the election. "I don't remember when the left was ever so happy in the past", he said.

At the end of his statement, Netanyahu appealed to the citizens of Israel.

"I intend to continue to serve you as prime minister for many more years", he said. "But it depends on you. Don't let this witch hunt confuse you."

With the election approaching, observers say the charges can only deepen uncertainty over Netanyahu's prospects in what is expected to be a tight race.