Israel’s attorney general has said prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not required to leave office after his indictment on corruption charges, giving a small boost to the embattled leader.
Avichai Mandelblit said in a statement that Netanyahu can remain interim PM, days after serving him with charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery.
Opponents have pressed Netanyahu to step down after the indictment. Mr Mandelblit’s opinion confirmed what had been a consensus legal view that an indicted premier may remain in office while fighting criminal charges.
Israeli law requires other public officials, including cabinet ministers, to resign if charged with a crime.
The attorney general did not weigh in on whether Netanyahu could keep his other ministerial positions while under indictment. The PM also holds the agriculture, labour and welfare, health and diaspora affairs portfolios.
Israel’s longest serving prime minister has dismissed the charges as an “attempted coup” and refused to resign. He says he will fight the charges from the prime minister’s office.
The indictment comes at a delicate time following the failure by Netanyahu and his chief rival, former military chief Benny Gantz, to secure a parliamentary majority and form a new government.
If a government is not formed by December 11, Israel will be forced to hold elections for the third time in a 12-month period.