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World Israel's Netanyahu returns to court as graft trial ramps up

05:06  08 february  2021
05:06  08 february  2021 Source:   afp.com

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement before entering a courtroom at the district court of Jerusalem (AFP Photo/Yonathan SINDEL). Jonah Mandel and Guillaume Lavallee. Updated May 24, 2020, 8:50 AM. Jerusalem (AFP) - A combative Benjamin Netanyahu stood in court Sunday for the "I'm here with a straight back and my head held high," Netanyahu said, labelling the charges "fabricated and ludicrous". The longest-serving prime minister in Israeli history has claimed to be the victim of a witch-hunt and again suggested the charges were trumped up to drive him from office.

Jerusalem (AFP) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ' s corruption trial has been postponed until May 24 due to concerns about coronavirus, Jerusalem' s District Court said Sunday. Netanyahu , the first Israeli premier ever to be indicted in office, had been scheduled to stand trial from Tuesday over "We have decided to postpone the first hearing (in Netanyahu ' s trial ) until May 24," the court said. Israel has 200 confirmed cases of the virus with tens of thousands of people in home quarantine. Netanyahu has been charged with a range of offences including receiving improper gifts and offering

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returns to court on Monday to formally respond to the corruption charges against him, as his trial enters an intensified phase six weeks before he faces re-election.

Benjamin Netanyahu et al. standing in front of a sign: Weekly protests against Netanyahu have rumbled on for months, with demonstrators from the 'Crime Minister' movement focusing on graft allegations the premier faces © MENAHEM KAHANA Weekly protests against Netanyahu have rumbled on for months, with demonstrators from the 'Crime Minister' movement focusing on graft allegations the premier faces Benjamin Netanyahu sitting on a stage: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may have to appear in court multiple times a week as his trial on corruption charges ramps up, while also campaigning ahead of Israel's fourth election in less than two years © Jack GUEZ Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may have to appear in court multiple times a week as his trial on corruption charges ramps up, while also campaigning ahead of Israel's fourth election in less than two years

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

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An Israeli court Wednesday ordered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to appear for the opening of his criminal trial in Jerusalem, setting the stage for a dramatic scene on Sunday. Netanyahu will enter the Jerusalem District Court surrounded by a phalanx of security as he becomes the first sitting Israeli prime minister to go on trial . In its decision, the court rejected the request, saying that Netanyahu "must, like all other accused, appear and give his statement before the court ."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided on a major overhaul of his defense team in a series of graft investigations, replacing his lead counsel, as prosecutors and the attorney general decide whether to indict him. Hadashot TV news analysts speculated Thursday that the changes were a sign that the premier believes his corruption cases will soon be brought to court . Going forward, Netanyahu will be represented by attorney Navot Tel-Zur, an experienced defender of public figures in graft probes, including former prime ministers Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, the

Avichai Mandelblit wearing a suit and tie: Repeatedly suggesting the charges against him have been trumped up, Netanyahu has taken direct aim at his hand-picked attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit © Menahem KAHANA Repeatedly suggesting the charges against him have been trumped up, Netanyahu has taken direct aim at his hand-picked attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit

The combative 71-year-old prime minister blasted the charges as "fabricated and ludicrous" ahead of his first court appearance in May, and has claimed to be the victim of a witch-hunt.

Repeatedly suggesting the charges against him have been trumped up, Netanyahu has taken direct aim at his hand-picked attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit.

At the Monday hearing, which was pushed back multiple times due to coronavirus restrictions, Netanyahu is compelled to appear in person to deliver the defendant's formal response to the allegations.

This marks the beginning of the trial-proper, with subsequent sessions focused on testimony and evidence.

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Israeli tycoon Shaul Elovitch (2nd L) appears at the Justice Court in Tel Aviv on February 22. Eurocom Group is a company owned by Shaul Elovitch, Netanyahu ' s friend, and one of the main suspects in Case 4000. News, where prosecutors say Netanyahu was seeking favorable coverage. Elovitch' s remand was extended in this case, as was that of Nir Hefetz, who was the Netanyahu family spokesman for many years. Prosecutors argued that if the men were freed, they would be able to work together against the investigation.

An ongoing police investigation into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ’ s affairs over graft allegations is being held up due to the Israeli leader’ s recent overseas travels. Investigators from the Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit have had difficulty setting up an Last month, Haaretz reported that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit rejected a police request to question former US Secretary of State John Kerry and former US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro in the investigation, following allegations that Netanyahu asked Kerry three times in 2014 to intervene and arrange a long-term US visa for Milchan.

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.

- 'Election meddling'? -

When Netanyahu last appeared in court nine months ago, he was fresh off a political victory, forming a coalition government with his election rival Benny Gantz, following three inconclusive votes.

But that fraught coalition proved short-lived and collapsed in December, with Gantz branding Netanyahu as serially dishonest.

It is unclear whether the cloud of the trial will hurt the premier's re-election chances in March.

Israel's parliament speaker and Netanyahu loyalist Yariv Levin insisted the court must "postpone" the trial's upcoming phase.

Proceeding now "will be lending a hand to blatant meddling in the elections", he told the right-wing Israel Hayom newspaper on Sunday.

Israel's Netanyahu returns to court as graft trial ramps up

  Israel's Netanyahu returns to court as graft trial ramps up Israel's Netanyahu returns to court as graft trial ramps upNetanyahu, the first Israeli premier to be indicted in office, was charged last year over allegations that he accepted improper gifts and sought to trade regulatory favour with media moguls in exchange for positive coverage.

The Israel Police on Sunday concluded its investigation into financial impropriety at the Prime Minister’ s Residence and recommended that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ’ s wife Sara Netanyahu stand trial on graft allegations. Handing over their findings to the Jerusalem district attorney, the police Earlier Sunday, the National Labor Court rejected a request by Netanyahu to appeal a separate abuse suit by her ex-caretaker. The court in February awarded Menny Naftali NIS 170,000 compensation (about ,735) for years of mistreatment he suffered while working at the Jerusalem residence, and

Jerusalem (AFP) - Israeli police were expected to question Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Monday over whether he illegally accepted gifts from wealthy supporters, media reports said, in a probe shaking the country's political scene. Media reports have alleged a conflict of interest over the role played by the Netanyahu family lawyer, David Shimron, who also acts for the Israeli agent of Germany's ThyssenKrupp, which builds the Dolphin submarines. Beyond those issues, Israel ' s state comptroller released a critical report in May about Netanyahu 's foreign trips, some with his wife and

Levin charged that it was unfair for the prosecution to present its case during the election campaign, while the defence rebuttals are scheduled for after election day.

Several recent polls show that Netanyahu's right-wing Likud remains the strongest party by a comfortable margin, but it is not certain that it will be able to form a 61-seat majority with its conservative and religious allies.

For the first time in his political career, Netanyahu is also facing a challenge from a prominent Likud defector: Gideon Saar, who broke with the prime minister to form his own New Hope party.

- 4,000, 2,000, 1,000 -

The charges against Netanyahu are divided into three separate cases.

The most serious -- known as Case 4,000, in which the premier is accused of bribery, fraud and breach of trust -- 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 benefiting Bezeq.

Elovitch and his wife were also indicted.

Case 2,000 concerns allegations Netanyahu sought a deal with the owner of the Yediot Aharonot newspaper that would have seen it give him more favourable coverage.

Israel PM Netanyahu pleads not guilty as corruption trial resumes

  Israel PM Netanyahu pleads not guilty as corruption trial resumes Benjamin Netanyahu returns to court to face three corruption allegations just six weeks ahead of an election.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.

Case 1,000 involves allegations Netanyahu and his family received gifts, including luxury cigars, champagne and jewellery estimated to be worth more than 700,000 shekels ($213,000), from wealthy individuals, in exchange for financial or personal favours.

The prime minister denies wrongdoing.

Weekly protests against him have rumbled on for months, with demonstrators from the "Crime Minister" movement focusing on the graft allegations.

Others have protested against the government's handling of the pandemic.

A counter-protest movement in support of Netanyahu has also taken to the streets.

The prime minister on Sunday urged his followers to not demonstrate outside the court, citing the danger from coronavirus mutations.

"I know you are planning on coming to the court tomorrow. I know you want to offer me strength in the face of the crumbling and deceitful cases against me," he said.

"For your health, I'm asking you, don't come."

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