Tue | Apr 7, 2020

Netanyahu corruption trial to begin in March

Published:Tuesday | February 18, 2020 | 9:54 AM
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting, in Jerusalem, Sunday, February 16, 2020. (Gali Tibbon/Pool via AP)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial will begin on March 17, an Israeli court said Tuesday, just two weeks after national elections are held.

Netanyahu is charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust under a number of cases in which he is alleged to have accepted lavish gifts from billionaire friends and exchanged regulatory favours for more positive media coverage.

In a brief statement, the court said Netanyahu is expected to attend the initial hearing.

Israel will hold parliamentary elections on March 2, its third vote in less than a year.

The first two elections were largely a referendum on Netanyahu, and the third is expected to be no different. Netanyahu’s campaign has sought to divert attention away from the corruption charges while his main challenger, former military chief Benny Gantz, has sought to highlight it.

He argues that Netanyahu is unfit to serve as prime minister while fighting the legal charges.

Gantz also said Monday that he would work to mend ties with America’s Democratic Party if he wins the elections next month.

He accused Netanyahu of neglecting bipartisan ties in Washington in favour of exclusive support from President Donald Trump’s Republican Party.

Gantz, who leads the Blue and White party, said that it was “very important that we will emphasise the importance of bipartisan relationship between Israel and the United States.”

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