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IPFS News Link • Israel

Netanyahu trial clouds last days of Israel election campaign


The announcement means that Netanyahu will appear in the Jerusalem court as a defendant just two weeks after the March 2 election. After a campaign in which Netanyahu has worked feverishly to divert attention from his legal woes, the final days of the race are almost certain to play into the hands of his opponents by focusing on the looming trial.

Netanyahu was indicted in November on charges of fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in connection to a series of scandals. He is accused of accepting lavish gifts from billionaire friends and offering regulatory favors to local media moguls in exchange for positive news coverage. Netanyahu, Israel's longest-serving prime minister, has denied any wrongdoing.

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

The March 2 election is Israel's third in under a year. Like the previous elections in April and September, the upcoming vote is seen largely as a personal referendum on Netanyahu.