Updated May 24, 2020 - World

Netanyahu goes on trial in corruption case

 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his address to supporters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust is set to start in Jerusalem District Court on Sunday. He strongly denies all charges.

Why it matters: Netanyahu is Israel's first sitting prime minister to go on trial on corruption charges. He's the country's longest-serving leader and was sworn into office for a fourth consecutive term exactly a week ago.

Driving the news: Netanyahu was indicted last November on all three corruption cases against him, known as 1,000, 2,000 and 4,000.

  • In January, Netanyahu surrendered his immunity from prosecution moments before the Knesset was expected to form a committee to strip it from him.
  • The prime minister had requested not to attend the arraignment, but Reuters reports the court ruled last Wednesday, "It is incumbent upon the requester, as with all other defendants, to appear and have his say in court."
  • Three other defendants have been charged in the case, the Jerusalem Post notes.

Zoom in: Per Barak Ravid of Israel's Channel 13 news, writing for Axios —

  • Case 1,000, the first fraud and breach of trust charge, concerns allegations that Netanyahu took gifts "worth $200,000 from businessmen in return for promoting their interests."
  • Case 2000, the second fraud and breach of trust, is over an alleged bribe deal between Netanyahu and Arnon Mozes, the publisher of Israel's largest newspaper.
  • Case 4,000, the bribery, fraud and breach of trust charge, concerns the relationship of Netanyahu and his wife Sara Netanyahu with Israel's leading telecommunications tycoon.
  • "According to the police statement, Netanyahu, who at the time was also the telecom minister, allegedly gave Elovitz regulatory benefits worth hundreds of millions of dollars. In return, Netanyahu and his wife meddled in the content of Walla, one of Israel's major news websites owned by Elovitz, and demanded positive coverage," Ravid reported for Axios when Israeli police recommended he be indicted in 2018.

Of note: As part of a power-sharing deal with Benny Gantz, the leader of the centrist Blue and White party, Netanyahu will remain as PM for at least 18 months, even as his corruption trial gets underway. The position is then due to rotate to Gantz.

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