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regular-article-logo Friday, 23 February 2024

Israel PM Netanyahu's trial in corruption case to resume under shadow of Gaza war

Under the so-called Case 4000 or the Bezeq-Walla bribery case, Netanyahu allegedly took regulatory steps beneficial to Bezeq Telecommunications in exchange for favourable media coverage on the Walla website, earlier owned by Bezeq

PTI Jerusalem Published 04.12.23, 03:49 PM
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. File picture

A district court here will resume hearing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's corruption case on Tuesday after a more than two-month hiatus due to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

Israel launched relentless air and ground attacks on the Gaza Strip following a cross-border attack by Palestinian group Hamas on October 7.

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Under the so-called Case 4000 or the Bezeq-Walla bribery case, Netanyahu allegedly took regulatory steps beneficial to Bezeq Telecommunications in exchange for favourable media coverage on the Walla website, earlier owned by Bezeq.

The Jerusalem District Court will resume hearing on 74-year-old Netanyahu's corruption case on Tuesday.

In June, the three judges in the case recommended that the prosecution withdraw the bribery charge.

The prosecution, however, declined to withdraw the charge and decided to continue the trial as planned, after which the court heard the testimonies of the people concerned.

The last hearing in the bribery case was held on September 20, after which the court adjourned for a holiday break, which got extended due to Hamas' brutal attack on Israel on October 7 and the subsequent war.

The courts had since shifted to an emergency schedule, during which only urgent hearings were held.

The trial in Netanyahu's corruption cases was halted as they were not considered urgent.

Last week, Justice Minister Yariv Levin signed regulations allowing the courts to resume normal operations.

Under the directives, courts have resumed activity with exceptions for attorneys and litigants now serving in the army reserves or who have been evacuated from their homes under government orders.

In addition, legal procedures have been "frozen" in connection with lawyers and litigants who have been taken hostage or deemed missing, as well as parents, spouses, children, and siblings of hostages and missing persons and other family members who qualify for government assistance, under the Law for the Funding of Prisoner, Hostage and Missing Person Families.

These cases are being postponed, except if both parties to a lawsuit agree to go forward.

Irked by the resumption of the hearing, David Amsalem, a minister in the Justice Ministry and a Netanyahu's Likud party member, called it an "unparalleled disgrace".

"War? Hostages? Evacuees? The economy? No and no… What's most important now is to engage the Prime Minister of Israel with the unfounded allegations and delusional trifles," Amsalem wrote on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

"Yes, yes, you read it right. There's no reason to delay it. It's an unparalleled disgrace!" he said.

Netanyahu is exempt from appearing at these hearings but may be required to testify in a few months.

If the war continues for several months, the question of how the war and the hearings can be conducted simultaneously will have to be addressed.

Netanyahu is also on trial for two additional counts of fraud and breach of trust in Case 1000, which concerns gifts he allegedly inappropriately received from billionaire benefactors, and Case 2000, in which he allegedly negotiated to obtain favourable media coverage in a newspaper in exchange for curtailing its competitors, The Times of Israel newspaper reported.

The death toll from Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip has surged to 15,523 since the start of the conflict on October 7, the Health Ministry in the besieged Palestinian enclave announced Sunday.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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