Prosecutor: Netanyahu's favors were 'currency'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's legal and political troubles played out in parallel on Monday, at his corruption trial and in the president's residence.

Netanyahu appeared at a Jerusalem District Court at the start of a corruption trial. The Prime Minister has pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery, breach of trust, and fraud.

His appearance comes as Israel’s President, Reuven Rivlin, began consulting with party heads on who might form the next coalition government.

A toss-up after the March 23 election, the fourth in two years, gave neither Netanyahu nor his rivals a clear mandate.

Rivlin said ethical considerations could factor into his decision, apparently alluding to Netanyahu's trial.

During the consultation sessions, the Israeli president met with Likud party representatives and their rivals, Yesh Atid.

Rivlin warned Israel could be "dragged into a fifth election."

Back at the court, Israeli protesters labeled Netanyahu ‘crime minister’.

The state said Netanyahu was responsible for regulations that allowed a telecom power-couple to clinch deals worth "many hundreds of millions of shekels," in exchange for them sweetening coverage of the premier on a popular news site then under their control.

Prosecutor Liat Ben Ari told the court "The relationship between Netanyahu and the (co-) defendants became currency, something that could be traded."

The leader faces two additional cases in what is the first criminal trial of a sitting Israeli prime minister.

He describes himself as the victim of a politically motivated witch-hunt.