The first witness in Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial has said he was told to make negative stories about the Israeli PM “disappear”.
Former Walla CEO Ilan Yeshua alleged he was also ordered by the news website’s owner, Shaul Elovitch, to post content that attacked Mr Netanyahu’s rivals.
Prosecutors said Mr Netanyahu made regulatory decisions worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Mr Elovitch in return for favourable coverage.
Both men have denied any wrongdoing.
The prime minister, who is being tried on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in connection with three separate cases, dismissed the hearing as a “charade” and accused the prosecution of a “coup attempt”.
It comes as Israel’s president meets parliamentarians to ask whom they support to form the next government following last month’s election.
The vote failed to end the long period of political stalemate that has led to four elections in two years, leaving both Mr Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc and the parties opposed to him short of a majority.
President Reuven Rivlin will consult party leaders this week, then nominate who he thinks has the best chance of forming a new coalition government.