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Netanyahu Indicted on Corruption Charges Hours Before Meeting with Trump

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was indicted on corruption charges Tuesday just hours after he withdrew a bid for immunity.

The prime minister is charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust, according to the indictment filed against him by Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit in Jerusalem District Court.

The 78-page indictment was announced in November but had remained in limbo until the immunity process for Netanyahu was concluded.

The prime minister decided to pull his request for immunity several hours before Israel’s parliament, Knesset, was expected to vote it down.

“In this fateful hour for the people of Israel, when I am in the United States on a historic mission to design the permanent borders of Israel and ensure our security for decades to come, the Knesset is expected to start another spectacle in the circus of removing immunity,” Netanyahu said in a scathing statement.

“Since I was not given due process, because all the rules of Knesset work were trampled on, and since the results of the procedure were pre-dictated without proper discussion, I decided not to let this dirty game continue,” the prime minister added.

President Trump is scheduled to meet with Netanyahu on Tuesday to announce the U.S. Middle East peace plan.

The charges center on Netanyahu’s alleged acceptance of gifts from wealthy businessmen as well as regulatory decisions he made that resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars going to a telecom company in exchange for more positive press coverage.

“No-one can run a state and at the same time manage three serious criminal cases for bribery, fraud and breach of trust,” said Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White party and Netahyahu’s top political opponent.

Netanyahu has denied all wrongdoing. The indictment marks the first time a sitting Israeli prime minister has been formally charged with criminal offenses.

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