Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces a trial beginning this week on felony corruption charges.
According to the New York Times, Netanyahu is charged with bribery, breach of trust and fraud. He is accused of giving favors to wealthy businessmen in exchange for gifts such as cigars and Champagne and favorable coverage in some news outlets.
Netanyahu has said he is innocent.
The trial is expected to last about a year or longer, but if convicted, Netanyahu could face years in prison. Also, Netanyahu would have to resign his role.
Netanyahu is one of the few sitting national leaders who have stayed in their top role and faced trial. Historically, national leaders accused of such crimes have resigned.
“It’s a sign of strength,” Sima Kadmon, a political columnist at daily newspaper Yediot Ahronot, said in an interview. “In spite of everything, Benjamin Netanyahu is going on trial today.”
Meanwhile, others say the trial is a distraction from larger issues.
“It’s going to haunt the system,” said Prof. Shlomo Avineri, a political scientist at Hebrew University. “This is not what public discourse should be about. And this is going to continue for some time.”
Netanyahu has called the charges a “witch hunt” against him brought on by his political opponents.
On Sunday, he said the case was “an attempt to thwart the will of the people an attempt to bring me and the right down.
“They don’t mind if some sort of obedient right-wing poodle comes instead, but I am not a poodle,” he added.
"I am here as your Prime Minister, with straight back and proud," he also said Sunday. "When the public is exposed to the whole truth, the cases will crumble."
Proceedings are expected to resume July 19, but CNN reported that it may be months before the prosecution opens.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Amir Levy/Stringer
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.