Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s lawyers started an indictment hearing at the Ministry of Justice in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit recommended the proceedings on fraud, breach of trust and bribery charges.

If indicted, it was announced yesterday Netanyahu will take a “leave of absence”.

“This is not an easy step in leadership,” Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein told Israeli broadcaster Kan.

“The prime minister is prepared to pay this price to establish a government.”

Netanyahu faces corruption charges, known as Cases 4000, 1000 and 2000, but did not attend the initial hearing behind closed doors.

His defense team are confident charges will be dropped as they have fresh evidence to present and are not considering a plea bargain or presidential pardon.

The past two days centred on Case 4000 on charges over alleged favourable coverage on the Walla! News website in return for regulatory benefits.

Case 1000 details charges of fraud and breach of trust on Netanyahu and his family over allegedly receiving banned gifts from billionaire business magnates Arnon Milchan and James Packer.

Case 2000 alleges Netanyahu attempted to negotiate favourable coverage in Yedioth Ahronoth in return for promoting legislation against rival newspaper Israel Hayom.

Netanyahu has consistently maintained his innocence through years of investigation.

Labelling allegations a “witch hunt”, he has vocally criticised the media, police, prosecutors and justice system.

Mandelblit refused his request to air the hearings live last week.

Netanyahu argued it would balance “a deluge of biased, partial leaks” against him.

It has been reported that legal experts view a prospect of indictment high given evidence collected by police and prosecution lawyers recommending a trial.

Netanyahu continued his efforts to form a coalition government and Israel’s politicians were sworn in to the 22nd Knesset as hearings took place this week.

By Adam Moses