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Israel's Netanyahu blasts media, political foes over legal woes

Police have recommended Netanyahu's indictment in three separate corruption investigations
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (AFP/file photo)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday released a video accusing the media and left-wing opponents of pressuring the attorney general to indict him ahead of April polls. 

Police have recommended Netanyahu's indictment in three separate corruption investigations, and the attorney general is expected to announce his decision on whether to charge the prime minister in the weeks or months ahead, AFP said.

A senior justice official told Haaretz that Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit is expected to indict Netanyahu next month, pending a hearing, on charges of bribery in a news-for-favours case. Mendelblit's intention to charge Netanyahu next month was first reported by the Israel Television News Company.

"For three years the Left and the media have been pushing the attorney general to file charges at any price," read a message at the start of a short video posted on Twitter by Netanyahu.

The video then showed footage of protesters brandishing placards, calling for Netanyahu to be jailed, during demonstrations outside the home of Attorney General Mandelblit.

"Will they succeed?" a closing message said. 

The video sparked criticism from political opponents.

The justice ministry insisted to the Israeli media that the attorney general would not be influenced in his decision.

Israeli police recommend Netanyahu and his wife be charged with corruption
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Polls show Netanyahu is likely to win the 9 April elections despite the investigations hanging over him, but a move to indict him pending a hearing could shake up the campaign.

If the attorney general announces his intention to indict the prime minister, Netanyahu gets a final chance to defend himself in a hearing before the charges are filed.

Haaretz said that even if Mendelblit’s decision is announced next month, the hearing will only take place after the 9 April general election.

The news-for-favours case involves suspicions that Netanyahu intervened with regulators to help Shaul Elovitch’s Bezeq group, Haaretz reported. In exchange, Elovitch, a long-time friend of Netanyahu, ordered Bezeq’s Walla news site to provide favourable coverage of the prime minister and his wife Sara, investigators say.

The premier says he has no intention of resigning if called in for such a hearing before the vote.