Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s corruption trial will start on March 17 at 3 p.m., the Justice Ministry announced on Tuesday.
Last Wednesday, the District Court in Jerusalem announced the three-judge panel that will manage the judicial proceedings, led by Justice Rivkah Friedman-Feldman, alongside judges Moshe Bar-Am and Oded Shaham.
Friedman-Feldman served on the panel that convicted former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in the Talansky Affair retrial.
On January 28, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit filed the indictments against Netanyahu at the Jerusalem District Court on three separate charges of corruption.
The move came just hours after Netanyahu, who was in Washington for the roll-out of U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace plan, withdrew his request for parliamentary immunity from prosecution for charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
This is the first time in Israel’s 71-year history that a sitting prime minister has been indicted. Olmert resigned before the charges, that ultimately led to a prison sentence, could be brought against him.
The indictments relate to three separate investigations, known as Cases 1000, 2000 and 4000 (Case 3000, which related to the purchase of German submarines by the Israeli Navy, did not lead to charges against the prime minister).
The most serious charges are connected to Case 4000 and include bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Netanyahu is accused of passing regulations that gave telecom magnate Shaul Elovitch benefits worth over $250 million to his company Bezeq. In return, Bezeq’s news site, Walla, published favorable articles about Netanyahu and his family. Shaul Elovitch and his wife Iris have also been charged with bribery.
Netanyahu is also charged with fraud and breach of trust in Case 2000, in which the prime minister and Yedioth Ahronoth and Ynet owner Arnon Mozes allegedly discussed mutual assistance to promote one another’s interests during private meetings that began in 2009 and lasted for several years. Mozes has been charged with bribery over the affair.
Case 1000 also involves charges of fraud and breach of trust, in which Netanyahu’s gifts of champagne from billionaires Arnon Milchan and James Packer turned into a sort of supply line.
The indictment said Netanyahu assisted the Israeli Hollywood mogul Milchan with extending his U.S. visa. It was not immediately clear what, if anything, Packer received in return.