Court holds second session on Netanyahu’s corruption charges

July 19, 2020 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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The Jerusalem District Court today (Sunday) held a second hearing on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption charges in three cases, mostly a technical session that Netanyahu did not attend.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on March 12, 2020. Photo by Alex Kolomoisky/POOL

The hearing was set to determine the schedule of the trial and when the hearings will begin on a regular basis. The prosecution would like to commence with the trial in the coming months and hold several sessions a week, and the defence is seeking a much later date while claiming that the magnitude of the material requires many months of preparations and fewer sessions a week.

Netanyahu was indicted for breach of trust in Case 1000, the illegal gifts affair, for breach of public trust in Case 2000, the Yediot Ahronot-Yisrael Hayom affair, and for bribery and breach of trust in Case 4000, the Bezeq-Walla! affair.

The first case, Case 1000, involves expensive gifts that Netanyahu allegedly received from wealthy supporters, particularly from Israeli-born movie producer Arnon Milchan, possibly in return for favours.

Case 2000 alleges bribery between Netanyahu and Yedioth Aharonoth owner, Arnon Mozes. Netanyahu supposedly offered to use his power to hinder the influence of Yedioth’s main rival, Israel Hayom, through legislation that would minimize Israel Hayom’s distribution, in return for Yedioth’s reduction of negative coverage of Netanyahu.

Case 4000 alleges that Shaul Elovitch, former owner of Israeli telecommunications giant Bezeq and of the Walla! news portal, pressured his CEO, Ilan Yeshua, to arrange positive coverage of Netanyahu on Walla! in exchange for the prime minister advancing regulations that would benefit Elovitch. The regulatory benefits were worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Bezeq, of which Elovitch was a major shareholder at the time.

The trial is expected to last for years.

Netanyahu, the first sitting prime minister in Israel’s history to be tried, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and his supporters have called the allegations a witch hunt by a “hostile media” against him and his family and have accused the judicial system of attempting to unseat a prime minister in an undemocratic process.

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