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On Monday, Israeli prosecutors accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of treating favors as “currency” at the start of a corruption trial that, combined with an inconclusive election, has cast doubt on his ability to stay in power.

Netanyahu was seated in the Jerusalem District Court wearing a black mask and a dark suit after being summoned by judges to face allegations of bribery, fraud, and breach of confidence.

Netanyahu, who denies any wrongdoing in the three lawsuits against him, met calmly with lawyers outside as supporters and opponents staged raucous protests. He left before the first witness took the stand.

During opening arguments, prosecutor Liat Ben Ari claimed that Israel’s longest-serving prime minister misused “the great governmental power entrusted to him, among other things, to demand and reap inappropriate benefits from owners of key media in Israel in order to advance his personal affairs – even when he faced his desire to be re-elected.”

Ben Ari added that he “made unconstitutional use of the great governmental power entrusted to him.”

“The relationship between Netanyahu and the defendants became currency, something that could be traded,” she said. “The currency could distort a public servant’s judgement.”


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