Israeli PM Vows Not To Shirk Corruption Trial After Election

Israeli Prime Minister and head of the Likud party Benjamin Netanyahu holds a strawberry as he speaks during a visit to a market in Jerusalem, Friday, Feb. 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday he will face corruption accusations against him head on in court and will not seek to pass legislation to derail his upcoming trial if he wins re-election this week.

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After failing to secure parliamentary immunity last month, insiders had speculated that Netanyahu would attempt to pass alternative legislation if he secures a parliamentary majority.

But Netanyahu denied it in a television interview two days before Israel heads to the polls in its third election in less than a year.

Two weeks later, Netanyahu goes on trial for charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust stemming from accusations he accepted lavish gifts from billionaire friends and promised to promote advantageous legislation for a major newspaper in exchange for favorable coverage.

Public opinion polls are predicting a similar result to the previous two inconclusive elections, leaving a divided Israel deadlocked and neither Netanyahu nor his chief challenger Benny Gantz able to build a coalition government with their traditional partners.

But if Netanyahu’s Likud edges ahead and along with its allies garners more than 61 of parliament’s 120 members the prime minister will have far more room to maneuver his way around the charges against him. Alternatively, if he falls short, he may be willing to step aside in return for some form of plea bargain that will keep him out of prison.

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