Benjamin Netanyahu has been indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

The Israeli prime minister has been charged in a series of corruption scandals which included accepting hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of champagne and cigars from billionaire friends in return for favours.

He also allegedly used his influence to help a wealthy telecoms magnate in exchange for favourable coverage on a popular news site.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit issued the indictment today.

Mr Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing and said he is a victim of a witch-hunt.

He is due to make a statement tonight.

However, the decision to charge him is likely to deal a heavy blow to his hopes of remaining in office.

Israel has recently held two inconclusive elections, with a third likely amid an ongoing political impasse.

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It is the first time a sitting Israeli prime minister has been charged with a crime.

The indictment does not require Mr Netanyahu to resign but is expected to raise pressure on him to step down.

The most serious charges are connected to so-called ‘Case 4000’, in which Mr Netanyahu is accused of passing regulations that gave his friend, telecoms magnate Shaul Elovitch, benefits worth tens of millions to his company Bezeq.

In return, Bezeq’s news site Walla allegedly published favourable articles about the PM and his family.

The indictment also said Mr Netanyahu’s gifts of champagne from billionaires Arnon Milchan and James Packer ‘turned into a sort of supply line’.

And it accuses Mr Netanyahu of assisting Israeli Mr Milchan, a Hollywood mogul, in extending his US visa.

Two close aides to Mr Netanyahu testified against him in the case.

Israel has recently held two inconclusive elections, with a third likely amid an ongoing political impasse.