Netanyahu in court
Netanyahu in court צילום: Amit Shabi.POOL, Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu arrived at the Jerusalem District Court Monday morning for the first hearing in the evidentiary phase of his trial.

Supporters gathered outside of the court ahead of Netanyahu’s arrival, while a group of anti-Netanyahu protesters also congregated nearby, calling for Netanyahu’s conviction and removal from office.

Businessman Shaul Elovitch, owner of the Bezeq telecommunications company and a codefendant in the Case 4000 trial, also arrived in court Monday.

Prior to Monday’s hearing, Netanyahu received permission from the court to absent himself as testimony is given in the first stage of the evidentiary phase of the trial. The prime minister is expected to leave the hearing immediately after chief prosecutor Liat Ben-Ari gives an opening statement.

Following Ben-Ari’s statement, former Walla! News CEO Ilan Yeshua is slated to testify as the first witness in the case.

Ben-Ari opened the hearing Monday by accusing Netanyahu of 'peddling' his influence as prime minister in dealings with businessmen.

"The first defendant is the Prime Minister of Israel, who according to the indictment, made prohibited use of his great governmental power with which he was entrusted to, among other things, seek out inappropriate benefits from major media outlet owners in Israel for the sake of advancing his many personal interests," Ben-Ari said.