Netanyahu Trial: Israeli Prime Minister Faces Jerusalem Court

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu goes on trial for corruption on Sunday, the first time a serving leader will have done so in the country’s history.

Mr. Netanyahu has been charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust – allegations which he strongly denies.

The 70-year-old has rejected calls by opponents to step down while he fights the cases.

It comes just a week after he was sworn back into office as head of a rare national unity government.

His political rival, Benny Gantz, agreed to share power following three inconclusive elections in under a year.

Mr. Netanyahu is expected to attend the opening session of the trial, which is being held at Jerusalem District Court.

The leader of the right-wing Likud party is Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, having been in power continuously since 2009. He also served a term in office from 1996-1999.

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Mr. Netanyahu has been indicted in three cases, known as 1,000, 2,000 and 4,000:

Case 1,000 – Fraud and breach of trust: he is accused of receiving gifts – mainly cigars and bottles of champagne – from powerful businessmen in exchange for favours.

Case 2,000 – Fraud and breach of trust: Mr. Netanyahu is accused of offering to help improve the circulation of Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot in exchange for positive coverage.

Case 4,000 – Bribery, fraud and breach of trust: as PM and minister of communications at the time of the alleged offence, Mr. Netanyahu is accused of promoting regulatory decisions favourable to the controlling shareholder in the Bezeq telecom giant, Shaul Elovitch, in exchange for positive coverage by Mr. Elovitch’s Walla news site.

Mr. Netanyahu has strongly denied all the charges against him, branding them a “witch-hunt” by political opponents, and has vowed to clear his name.