New Delhi: Facing charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the first serving prime minister of Israel to go on trial on Sunday, May 24. These corruption charges were opened in Jerusalem just days after he began his new term in office.
70-year-old Netanyahu is the country’s longest-serving prime minister on a fifth term. This time he came to power by agreeing to an unforeseen power-sharing arrangement to his rival, former general Benny Gantz, after three inconclusive elections in a year. He has been in power now for 11 straight years in addition to three during the 1990s.
He has been indicted in three cases, fraud and breach of trust as he has been accused of receiving gifts, mainly in the form of bottles of champagne and cigars from powerful businessmen for various favours; fraud and breach of trust as he was also accused of offering to help improve the circulation of Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot in exchange for favourable coverage and being the minister of communications along with PM he is accused of promoting regulatory decisions favourable to the controlling shareholder in Bezeq Telecom.
Netanyahu maintains his innocence and strongly denies all the charges against him. He says this is a left-wing plot to unseat him. The hearing on May 24 lasted for an hour and after the hearing, he addressed the media. He stated that the investigations were “tainted and stitched-up” from the start. Many of his supporters rallied outside the courtroom raising slogans of him not being alone and him being the king of Israel.
However, many anti- Netanyahu protestors gathered outside his residence and held up banners which read, “Crime Minister.” Some even painted the slogan on their masks as well.
Fraud and breach of trust can carry a prison sentence of up to three years and bribery can carry a sentence of up to 10 years in jail and/or a fine.