Wednesday, October 5, 2022
HomeNewsNetanyahu Pleads Not Guilty As Graft Trial Resumes

Netanyahu Pleads Not Guilty As Graft Trial Resumes

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has pleaded not guilty to corruption charges as his trial enters an intensified phase six weeks before elections in the country.

The Monday hearing, which was pushed back multiple times because of coronavirus restrictions, is where he has to deliver his formal response to the allegations. Subsequent sessions will focus on testimony and evidence.

Netanyahu, the first Israeli prime minister to be indicted in office, was charged last year over allegations he accepted improper gifts and sought to trade regulatory favour with media moguls in exchange for positive coverage.

The charges against Netanyahu are divided into three separate cases.

The most serious is known as Case 4000, in which he is accused of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, it centres on the allegation that Netanyahu negotiated with Shaul Elovitch of the telecommunications giant Bezeq to secure positive coverage on his Walla! news site in exchange for policies benefitting Bezeq. Elovitch and his wife were also indicted.

Case 2000 concerns allegations that Netanyahu sought a deal with the owner of the Yediot Aharonot newspaper that would have seen it give him more favourable coverage.

Case 1000 involves allegations that Netanyahu and his family received gifts, including luxury cigars, champagne and jewellery estimated to be worth more than 700,000 shekels, which is $213,000 in equivalence, from wealthy individuals, in exchange for financial or personal favours.

Bribery charges carry a jail sentence of up to 10 years and or a fine, while fraud and breach of trust carry a sentence of up to three years.

The prime minister denies wrongdoing. Under Israeli law, a prime minister is under no obligation to stand down unless convicted.

The trial schedule may force Netanyahu to appear in court multiple times a week as he campaigns ahead of Israel’s fourth election in less than two years to be held on March 23.

It is unclear whether the shadow cast by the trial will hurt the prime minister’s re-election chances. But it is likely he will fight to remain leader in the upcoming elections in March and possibly for years afterwards. If he wins, he could try to secure parliamentary immunity or pass laws to exempt a serving prime minister from standing trial.

Yariv Levin, Israeli Parliament Speaker

Israel’s parliament speaker and Netanyahu loyalist Yariv Levin insisted the court must “postpone” the trial’s upcoming phase.

Netanyahu has served as Israel’s prime minister since 2009, and in the past two years has managed to hang onto power through three tumultuous, deadlocked elections.


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