Netanyahu vows to stay on in face of charges

Netanyahu vows to stay on in face of charges
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to reporters on Feb. 28, 2019, in Jerusalem. Israel's attorney general announced Thursday that he intended to indict the prime minister on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, facing indictment for alleged corruption, says he will lead Israel for “many more years.”

“Don’t believe all the spin,” Netanyahu told Israelis during a televised address Thursday. “But it’s up to you. It’s not up to the civil servants. It’s not up to the television studios. It’s not up to the pundits and journalists.”

Echoing his close friend and ally U.S. President Donald Trump, Netanyahu called the case against him a political “witch hunt.”

Culminating a two-year police investigation, Israel Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced his intention to indict Netanyahu on bribery, breach of trust and fraud charges.

The prime minister is suspected of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of gifts from billionaires — including expensive champagne and cigars — and doing favors for an Israeli media magnate in exchange for favorable coverage in newspapers and the internet.

The justice ministry must hold a hearing to give Netanyahu a chance to defend himself before formal charges are filed — a process that could take months.

A general election is scheduled April 9. Netanyahu has the support of the Israeli right wing, including anti-Palestinian nationalists and religious hard-liners. But he is expected to face a tough challenge from a coalition of centrist parties.

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