Anshel Pfeffer, author of a recent Netanyahu biography, said on Twitter that Israel was entering "uncharted waters" in which "no one has any idea how being a prime minister under notice of indictment will effect Netanyahu and his government". Netanyahu has built his rule on an unmatched skill at political maneuvering, preferring coalitions with nationalist and religious parties when possible, but gravitating toward more moderate alliances when politically expedient.
Police have accused Netanyahu of accepting bribes from wealthy foreigners, of attempting to strike backroom deals to obtain more favorable media coverage, and of giving a telecommunications company favorable regulations in exchange for positive media coverage. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit says he has sufficient evidence to press charges against Netanyahu in three separate cases, pending a pre-indictment hearing where Netanyahu will be given the opportunity to defend himself.
Mr Netanyahu will have the chance to persuade the attorney general not to indict him at a hearing, which is likely to take place after the election.
During two years of intense deliberations and questionings, police have already recommended that Netanyahu, 69, be indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in all three cases.
Netanyahu is suspected of wrongfully accepting $264,000-worth of gifts, which prosecutors said included cigars and champagne, from tycoons and dispensing favors in alleged bids for improved coverage by an Israeli newspaper and a website. Milchan will not be charged, according to the attorney-general.
Netanyahu has no intention of resigning unless he has to, which he legally doesn't, so will still lead Likud into elections unless there is a putsch from within. He is seeking a renewed mandate from the people in the April 9 election and has indicated that he intends to remain in office while pursuing a legal battle.
Still, the attorney general has said that the pending cases against Netanyahu "would not be influenced by anything other than the evidence and the law". That process can take weeks, if not months.
Ze'ev Rubinstein, a confidant of the Netanyahus, will be charged with bribery.
The dramatic move, the first time a serving Israeli prime minister has been put on official notice of planned prosecution, deepened uncertainty over the right-wing leader's re-election prospects.
Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing and says he is the victim of a politically orchestrated "witch-hunt" by the media and the left. They admire his fluency in English and decades of experience which give him an global stature that no other Israeli politician can presently rival.
President Donald Trump, with whom Netanyahu has forged a close connection, offered the Israeli leader a boost ahead of the expected announcement.
Addressing his as-yet unveiled peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians, he said the process has marked "the most hard deal in the world".