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Former Israeli PM Lapid testifies in Netanyahu graft trial

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Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid on Monday testified at a Jerusalem court in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ongoing corruption trial.
His arrival at the court at around 9:00 am (0600 GMT) was confirmed by two AFP journalists.

Lapid’s testimony forms part of a case in which Netanyahu is accused of fraud and breach of trust over his relationship with Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and other wealthy personalities.

According to prosecutors, between 2007 and 2016 Netanyahu allegedly received gifts valued at 700,000 shekels ($195,000), including boxes of cigars, bottles of champagne and jewellery, in exchange for financial or personal favours.

Netanyahu denies any allegations of wrongdoing, saying gifts were only accepted from friends and without him having asked for them.

In October 2019, his lawyers said they had received an expert legal opinion that concluded he had a right to accept gifts from close friends.

Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving premier, is suspected of promoting a tax project in return that would have brought Milchan millions of dollars. The finance ministry has since vetoed this proposal.

Lapid was finance minister when the so-called “Milchan Law” was debated in 2013 and 2014.

The centrist politician preceded Netanyahu as premier before the latter allied with ultra-Orthodox and far-right parties to return to power in November 2022.

The case is one of a series of corruption trials against the veteran politician.

The trial began in May 2020, a first for a sitting Israeli prime minister.

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