Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday Israeli legal authorities of mounting a witch hunt to remove "a strong right-wing prime minister" from office.
Netanyahu's comments came after the day's court session concluded at the opening of his corruption trial.
An Israeli prosecutor told the court that Netanyahu had helped a business couple to clinch deals worth hundreds of millions of shekels in exchange for favourable coverage of him on a news website they controlled.
Netanyahu has pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery, breach of trust and fraud in a case that, along with an inconclusive election last month, has clouded his prospects of remaining in office. It is the first criminal trial of a sitting Israeli prime minister.
The state said Netanyahu was responsible for regulations that allowed a telecommunications power-couple, Shaul and Iris Elovitch, to win deals worth "many hundreds of millions of shekels" in return for them sweetening coverage of the premier on the Walla news site, which was then under their control.
Former Walla CEO Alan Yeshua, testifying on behalf of the prosecution, said that while employed there he had been "barraged" by demands from the Elovitchs and by Netanyahu confidants to promote the prime minister and play down or attack his political rivals.
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