Netanyahu trial opens
'I'm standing here with my head held high'

PM arrives at J'lem district court for opening of trial. Presence at trial limited in accordance with coronavirus restrictions.

Arutz Sheva Staff, AFP ,

Netanyahu at the opening of his trial, May 24th 2020
Netanyahu at the opening of his trial, May 24th 2020
Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu arrived at a Jerusalem courthouse on Sunday saying his head was "held high" as he began a long-delayed corruption trial.

Wearing a suit and blue and white tie and flanked by ministers, Netanyahu addressed reporters before entering the court where he faces charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

Again denying all allegations, he condemned the "ludicrous" charges against him.

"I'm here with a straight back and my head held high," he said.

Netanyahu, the longest-serving prime minister in Israeli history, has long claimed to be the victim of a witchhunt and again suggested the charges were trumped up to stop him continuing in office.

"When you need to take me down, a strong prime minister from the Right, everything is possible," he said.

Netanyahu added a request for the rest of his trial to be broadcast live, unlike the opening session at which the court banned TV cameras.

"I ask for everything to be broadcast live and uncensored so that the public will know," he said.

"The police department and prosecutor's office have joined forces with left-wing newspapers racking up imaginary charges against me. Their goal is the overthrow of a strong prime minister," he said. "Investigations were mishandled from the outset."

"They'd like to see an obedient poodle from the right and I'm not one. I'm not willing to be coddled by the media or uproot settlements, so they're doing everything in their power to get me. I want to reiterate what's going on here: this is a trial against the Right by a bunch of 'Anyone but Bibi' folks. They're trying to frame me."

Netanyahu attacked former police chief Roni Alsheikh for his comments yesterday in which Alsheikh slammed Likud minister David Amsalem for claiming the man who has spearheaded attempts to put Netanyahu on trial, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, was considered guilty of being a criminal by a majority of Israelis.

"It's the same guy who transferred millions of taxpayer shekels to his media consultant. This is the same Alsheikh who committed a criminal offense when he leaked live footage of investigations into my case, this is the same guy who falsely accused me of sending private investigators after him. He mentioned another Roni – a Roni Rittman. He claimed I was the one who'd sent the officer who filed charges against him. These are the people who've been leading the investigation of my case," said Netanyahu.

"Crooked investigations have been led against me from the very outset. Twice in the past year a 'just not Bibi' group intervened in the election process. They were sure the right and I would crash in the elections. They'd do anything to unseat me, but citizens of Israel, you are smarter than those who are trying to implicate me," the prime minister added.

"I stand here today as your Prime Minister with my head held high and demand - reveal everything, find out everything. Representatives of the media, I know why you are here. You want to catch pictures of [me standing trial] as part of your 'Just Not Bibi' propaganda campaign that has not ceased for a moment. But I want the public to see the entire picture for what it is, to hear everything and not through the lenses of my accusers," Netanyahu demanded. "The whole picture, the public needs to know the whole truth. That's why my first request from the court is full transparency. I want everything to be broadcast live, continuous and uncensored."

Netanyahu called immediately to publish "the Justice Department document sent to the state comptroller, and transcripts intended to oust witnesses so that "they would present false testimony against me." Is this the rule of law? Is this democracy? Where can you see a thing like this in a democracy?" Netanyahu protested.