Netanyahu's corruption trial

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's criminal trial is set to begin March 17, just two weeks after Israel's elections, the Justice Ministry announced Tuesday.

The trial will begin one day after the country's newly elected parliament is sworn in and in the middle of coalition negotiations, as Israel tries to break a year-long political deadlock.

Netanyahu faces one charge of bribery and three charges of fraud and breach of trust in three separate corruption investigations. The Prime Minister is required to be present at Jerusalem District Court on the first day of trial, which will be presided over by three judges.

The 70-year-old Israeli leader has denied wrongdoing, calling the cases an "attempted coup" and a media-fueled witch hunt. Under Israeli law, Netanyahu is not required to step down unless he is convicted and that conviction is upheld throughout the appeals process.

Election polls have repeatedly shown that neither Netanyahu nor his rival Benny Gantz, the former chief of staff of the Israeli military who leads the Blue and White party, has a clear path to forming a 61-seat coalition.The polls have barely shifted since the last election in September, when both Netanyahu and Gantz failed to form a government.

(c) CNN 02/17/2020

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