FILE - In this Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019 file photo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during an extended faction…
In this Nov. 20, 2019 photo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during an extended meeting of the right-wing bloc members at the Knesset, in Jerusalem.

Report updated 5:30 p.m., 2019

JERUSALEM - After three years of investigation, Israel's Attorney General has decided to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in three separate cases.

The most serious charge is bribery, and it is the first time in Israel's history that a sitting prime minister has been indicted. 

Netanyahu accused the attorney general of trying to stage a coup. 

Israel's Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit reads a statement in Jerusalem, Nov. 21, 2019. Mandelblit charged PM Benjamin Netanyahu with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in three different scandals.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit's indictment is even harsher than many had expected. 

In the most serious case, Netanyahu is accused of taking bribes to promote regulations worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Israel's phone company Bezeq. The charges say that in return, Netanyahu demanded and received favorable coverage on Walla News, which is owned by Bezek.

Mandelblit, who used to be close to Netanyahu, said it was a difficult and sad day. He said he found evidence pointing to grievous actions allegedly being committed, and said it was his duty by law to indict Netanyahu.

Netanyahu, who is Israel's longest-serving prime minister, lashed out at Mandelblit and at the entire Justice system, accusing them of an attempted coup.

Sounding emotional, Netanyahu said you have to be blind not to see that something bad is happening to police investigators and the prosecution. He said all accusations against him are false.

Israeli legal expert Oren Gazal -Ayal said Netanyahu can remain in office during the trial.

"According to the basic law of the government, a prime minister only has to resign after the final verdict has been given and we are talking now only about an indictment so according to the terms of the law, he can continue to serve legally while being charged and while being tried in court,” Gazal-Ayal said

WATCH: Reactions Mixed on Netanyahu's Corruption Charges

Embed

That could take months, if not years. Meanwhile, the Israeli political system is in chaos after neither Netanyahu nor former army chief Benny Gantz has been able to form a coalition government since an election more than two months ago.

 

Special Project

More Coverage