Israel’s attorney general has charged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in connection with three separate cases.
Mr Netanyahu is alleged to have accepted gifts from wealthy businessmen and dispensed favours to try to get more positive press coverage.
He denies wrongdoing and says he is the victim of a “witch hunt” by his left-wing opponents and the media.
He has insisted he will not resign and is not legally obliged to do so.
But the announcement comes amid a political stand-off in Israel following two inconclusive general elections in April and September.
On Wednesday, Mr Netanyahu’s rival for the premiership, Benny Gantz, said he had been unable to command a majority in parliament and form a governing coalition.
President Reuven Rivlin had given him the opportunity to try and form a government after Mr Netanyahu failed to do so.
Mr Rivlin formally asked lawmakers on Thursday to agree on a candidate for prime minister within 21 days and avoid an unprecedented third election in a year.