Israel’s attorney general indicted Benjamin Netanyahu on a range of corruption charges Thursday, the justice ministry announced, potentially spelling an end to the prime minister’s decades-long political career.
Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit “decided to file charges against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for offences of receiving a bribe, fraud, and breach of trust,” a ministry statement said.
It said a note of the decision and a copy of the charges had been provided to the premier’s lawyers.
Netanyahu, who strongly denies all the charges, becomes the first Israeli prime minister to be indicted while in office.
Mandelblit is due to give a public statement at 1730 GMT, with Netanyahu expected to respond.
Netanyahu is not legally required to resign, only if convicted with all appeals exhausted, but political pressure is likely to be intense.
Netanyahu may now ask the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, to grant him immunity from prosecution.
Rightwinger Netanyahu, who has been in power since 2009, is Israel’s longest-serving prime minister and dominates the country’s political scene.
The decision comes as Netanyahu, a close ally of US President Donald Trump, is fighting for his political life.
Israeli been without a government for nearly a year, with neither Netanyahu nor his centrist rival Benny Gantz able to form a coalition government following deadlocked elections in April and September.
UN Suspends 2 Officials In Viral Car-Sex Video
Two employees of the United Nations mission in Israel have been suspended without pay after a viral video featured a sex act in their official vehicle, as it drove down a major street in Tel Aviv.
Recall that in the 18-second video, a woman in a red dress was seen straddling a man in the back seat of clearly marked white UN vehicle. Another man appears to be asleep in the passenger seat.
In a statement released on Thursday July 2, the UN said the men in the video have been identified as staff members of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), UN military observers based in Israel.
Stéphane Dujarric, the spokesman for the UN’s secretary general said the two staff members have been suspended without pay until the investigation into the incident has concluded.
Dujarric told BBC;
“Their suspension was appropriate given the seriousness of the allegations of failing to observe the standards of conduct expected of international civil servants.
“UNTSO has re-engaged in a robust awareness-raising campaign to remind its personnel of their obligations to the UN Code of Conduct.”
The UN maintains strict regulations barring sexual misconduct by staffers and has come under fire for violations in recent years. A report by the UN confirmed 175 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by staffers in 2019. Sixteen claims were substantiated, fifteen were found to be unsubstantiated, and the rest are still investigated.
French Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe Resigns
France is to name a new prime minister on Friday shortly after the announcement of Edouard Philippe’s resignation.
President Emmanuel Macron wants a new government to focus on efforts to relaunch the French economy deeply hit by the coronavirus crisis.
The French presidency said a new prime minister will be appointed “in the coming hours.” Many government members are expected to be replaced in the ensuing reshuffle.
In an interview given to several local newspapers on Thursday, Macron, said he is seeking a “new path” to rebuild the country for the two remaining years of his term.
He praised Philippe’s “outstanding work” in the past three years.
“I will need to make choices to lead (the country) down the path,” he said.
Macron did not elaborate on the profile of the next prime minister. French media list Florence Parly and Jean-Yves Le Drian, former defense minister and foreign minister respectively, among potential candidates.
The reshuffle comes days after a green wave swept over France in local elections. Macron saw his young centrist party defeated in France’s biggest cities and failing to plant local roots across the country.
The reshuffle was planned even before Sunday’s voting, as Macron’s government faced obstacles and criticism before and during the virus crisis.
As the pandemic was peaking in the country in March and April, authorities came under fire for the lack of masks, tests and medical equipment.
Before that, Macron’s pro-business policies, widely seen as favoring the wealthier, had been hampered by the yellow vest economic movement against perceived social injustice. This winter, weeks of strikes and street demonstrations against a planned pension overhaul disrupted the country.
In addition, Macron’s efforts to boost job creation have been swept away by the economic and social consequences of the country’s lockdown.
The government issued a 460 billion-euro emergency package through a state-funded partial activity scheme, tax cuts and other financial aids for businesses, and Macron needs to adapt his policies as France’s economy is expected to shrink by 11% this year.
The unemployment rate that fell from 9.2% at the beginning of Macron’s term in 2017 to 7.6% earlier this year — its lowest level since 2008 — is now expected to increase steadily.
“Our first priority will be to rebuild an economy that is strong, ecological, sovereign and united,” Macron said in a televised address to the nation on June 14.
He ruled out any tax rise and instead said “working and producing more” is the response amid bankruptcies and layoffs caused by the crisis.
He put an emphasis on creating new jobs with climate-oriented policies including renovation of old buildings and greener transport and industries.
Philippe, 49, is expected to become the mayor of his hometown of Le Havre, in western France, after he won a large victory in Sunday’s voting.
A conservative, former member of The Republicans’ party, he had joined Macron’s government in May 2017.
He had seen his popularity sharply increase in recent weeks, according to French poll institutes that show many French consider he did good job in gradually easing virus-related restrictions in the country and enforcing an emergency package to support the French economy.
Former French PM, François Fillon And His Wife Sentenced To Jail For Embezzling Public Funds
Former French prime minister, François Fillon and his Welsh wife, Penelope, were sentenced to jail on Monday for embezzling public funds as part of the “fake job” scandal.
A French court found Francois guilty of charges of creating a fake job for his wife, using taxpayer money.
The 66- year-old was accused of creating a position that paid his wife over €1 million ($1.13 million) in public funds, a charge that cost him his 2017 presidential bid. Fillon’s wife, Penelope, was also found guilty of being complicit in the case.
He was additionally accused of getting the millionaire owner of a literary magazine to pay his wife €135,000 for “consulting work.”
Mr. Fillon was sentenced to five years in prison, three of which were suspended, as well as a €375,000 fine. Fillon was also banned from running for elected office for 10 years.
His wife was handed a three year suspended sentence and fined the same amount.
Mrs. Fillon was found guilty of having a “fake” job at a French-language monthly literary, cultural, and political affairs magazine, Revue des Deux Mondes, run by one of her husband’s friends.
The court said Mrs. Fillon, 64, was paid “the maximum possible” and that the sums were “out of proportion to her activities”.
“Nothing could have justified the remuneration she received,” said Nathalie Gavarino, the leading judge
The couple, who have five children, were additionally convicted of employing their two eldest, Marie and Charles, between 2005 and 2007, paying them a combined €117,000.
A third accused, Marc Jouland, who took over Fillon’s constituency as MP in the Assemblée Nationale while he was prime minister was given a three-year suspended sentence and fined €20,000.
François Fillon previously served as prime minister in Nicolas Sarkozy’s centre-right government between 2007 and 2012.
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