Netanyahu’s Lawyers Make Unprecedented Request to Delay Bribery Trial Again

The prime minister's legal team argues the court shouldn’t start hearing witnesses in before Attorney General Mendelblit decides whether to file indictments against telecoms firms embroiled in alleged corruption cases

Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel
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Benjamin Netanyahu at the Jerusalem District Court, May 2020.
Benjamin Netanyahu at the Jerusalem District Court, May 2020.Credit: Amit Shabi
Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attorneys have once again asked that his trial be postponed, this time until the attorney general decides whether to indict three companies involved in his alleged crimes. The prosecution deemed this “a request the likes of which has never been submitted in Israel’s legal history.”

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Last month, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit announced that he plans to indict the Walla internet news site, the Bezeq telecommunications company and the daily Yedioth Ahronoth unless convinced otherwise in a pre-indictment hearing.

Netanyahu is charged with bribery for allegedly giving Bezeq regulatory benefits in exchange for favorable coverage on its subsidiary Walla site, and with breach of trust for allegedly negotiating a similar but never consummated deal with Yedioth’s publisher. Both Bezeq’s then-owner, Shaul Elovitch, and Yedioth’s publisher, Arnon Mozes, have already been indicted.

In their request to the Jerusalem District Court, Netanyahu’s lawyers argued that the court shouldn’t start hearing witnesses in these cases before Mendelblit decides whether to indict the companies. They accused the prosecution of acting “unreasonably.”

Prosecutor Liat Ben Ari urged the court to reject the request, saying that any delay in the trial would contradict the public interest in beginning the trial of a prime minister charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

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