Netanyahu appears in court to answer corruption charges
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has appeared in court to officially respond to corruption allegations against him.
His trial resumes a few weeks before parliamentary elections in the occupied territories.
He arrived at the al-Quds (Jerusalem) District Court for a hearing Monday morning amid tight security and after several delays due to coronavirus closures.
Dozens of protesters demanding his resignation gathered near the courthouse after months of demonstrations.
Netanyahu, who is the first Israeli prime minister to be indicted in office, will likely have to orally confirm the defense submitted by his lawyers.
In 2019, he was indicted on three long-running counts of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
Case 1,000 involves allegations that Netanyahu received luxury gifts from international billionaires in return for favors. Case 2.000 accuses him of conspiring with the owner of the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper against a critical daily. Case 4.000 alleges that Netanyahu offered incentives to Israeli telecommunications provider Bezeq to spread positive news on the Walla news website.
It is the second time Netanyahu has personally attended a hearing of his trial.
The first hearing was held last May, at which the prime minister claimed that the charges against him were “fabricated.” He repeated that claim on Sunday, calling on his supporters not to come to court to show solidarity with him because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaker of the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) and Netanyahu loyalist Yariv Levin had insisted that the court postpone the trial, claiming that it was unfair for the prosecution to present its case during the election campaign.
If they proceed now, “it will contribute to their open interference in the elections,” he told the Israel Hayom newspaper.
Israel will hold its fourth parliamentary elections in two years on March 23, amid public anger over Netanyahu’s bribery allegations and handling of the coronavirus crisis.
by Basit Abbasi – CCTV