Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to be first serving PM to face criminal charges.

Mr Netanyahu was indicted on charges of bribery, breach of trust and fraud.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced the decision today.

Mr Netanyahu, who has denied wrongdoing in three corruption cases, is not legally required to resign until he is convicted and all appeals are exhausted, but political pressure is likely to be intense.

The prime ministers hit back with 15-minute televised speech, accusing the judiciary, police and others of plotting against him with "false" and "politically motivated" allegations.

"What is going on here is an attempt to stage a coup against the prime minister," he said.

"The object of the investigations was to oust the right from government."

He vowed to continue on as interim prime minister despite potential court dates and intense political pressure.

"I will continue to lead this country, according to the letter of the law," he said.

Police recommended in February that Mr Mandelblit file criminal charges against the right-wing prime minister in the long-running investigations dubbed Cases 1000, 2000 and 4000.

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The prime minister is suspected of wrongfully accepting $264,000 worth of gifts, which prosecutors said included cigars and champagne, from tycoons and of dispensing favours in alleged bids for improved coverage by Israel's biggest selling newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, and the Walla website.

He could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of bribery and a maximum three-year term for fraud and breach of trust.

Mr Netanyahu, who is nicknamed "Mr Security" and "King Bibi" and has been in power since 2009, is Israel's longest-serving prime minister and dominates the country's political scene.

The indictment comes as Israel faces a potential third election in a year, with neither Mr Netanyahu nor his main rival able to form a government after two deadlocked elections.