Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE appeared in court Monday as his trial began on charges of bribery as well as fraud and breach of trust, making a combative statement aimed at the country's justice system.
The Associated Press reported that the Israeli leader also addressed the charges he faces at a press conference, claiming them to be an effort to get him out of office.
“I stand before you with a straight back and head raised high,” he reportedly said. “The objective is to depose a strong, right-wing prime minister, and thus remove the nationalist camp from the leadership of the country for many years.”
“While the media continues to deal with nonsense, with these false, trumped up cases, I will continue to lead the state of Israel and deal with issues that really matter to you,” Netanyahu added, according to the AP.
Benny Gantz, who joined with Netanyahu to form a coalition government earlier this year, responded in a statement that Netanyahu would received a fair trial: “I repeat and emphasize that my colleagues and I have full faith in the justice system and law enforcement."
Netanyahu faces accusations that he accepted bribes and exchanged lavish gifts with media figures in exchange for positive coverage of his administration, both of which he has denied. He was formally indicted in January after dropping a request for parliamentary immunity, becoming the only prime minister in Israel's history to be indicted while in office.
His trial was originally set to begin in March, but was delayed by two months due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has sickened more than 16,700 in the country.