Prosecutors Accuse Netanyahu of Using Favors as ‘Currency’

Netanyahu's favours were 'currency', prosecutor says as corruption trial starts
FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusale...

The Israeli prosecutor accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday of trading favors as “currency” at the opening of the corruption trial, along with an inconclusive election, which has blurred the prospects of his hold on the Prime Minister’s office.

Netanyahu, who had pleaded innocent on allegations of bribery, violations of trust, and fraud, came to the Jerusalem District Court in a dark suit and black protective mask. He huddled up with a lawyer as protesters for and against the incumbent Prime Minister could be heard outside.

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The state accused that Netanyahu was responsible for regulations that enable a telecom power-couple to reach agreements worth “hundreds of millions of times”, in return for them arranging the primary coverage of premier on the popular news sites than under the pair’s control.

“The relationship between Netanyahu and the defendants (CO-) became ‘currency,’ something that can be traded,” said the prosecutor Ben-Ari while presenting arguments in what was called the 4000 cases. “This currency can distort the assessment of civil servants.” Benjamin Netanyahu faces two additional cases in what is the first criminal trial of a sitting Israeli prime minister. He described himself as a victim of a politically motivated witch-hunting ahead of the elections.

Meanwhile, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin began consulting with the party leadership on who might form the next coalition government in Israel – a toss-up after the March 23 election, the fourth in two years, that did not give Netanyahu or his opponents a clear mandate. Rivlin said ethical considerations could affect his decision, alluding to the incumbent’s trial.

“I don’t see how the government can be established,” Rivlin told representatives from the Centrist Yesh Atid, the biggest opposition party, which hopes to unseat Netanyahu’s conservative Likud. “The Israelites must be very worried that we can be dragged into the fifth election.”

Netanyahu spent an hour in court, departing – with his agreement – before Yilan Yeshua, the former CEO of the Walla news site, testify on behalf of the prosecution. Yeshua said that when hired by Walla, he had been “peeled” by the demands from his owner, Shaul and Iris Elovitch, and by Netanyahu aides to promote the prime minister and play or attack his political rivals.

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