Netanyahu Trial to Start on May 24 as Courts Resume Activity Curtailed Amid COVID-19

The prime minister's trial was supposed to start on March 24, but was postponed after the justice minister, a close Netanyahu ally, froze the activities of the courts in the shadow of the coronavirus crisis

Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel
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Israelis protest measures passed during the coronavirus crisis and the policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Tel Aviv, April 2020.
Israelis protest measures passed during the coronavirus crisis and the policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Tel Aviv, April 2020. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel

Initially scaled back amid the coronavirus crisis, Israeli courts will extend their activities and are expected to resume most of their operations on May 3. Meaning, as scheduled, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's trial for three corruption cases will start on May 24.

In January, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit indicted Netanyahu for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in three cases.

Corona keeps Bibi in power and unmasks the Mossad

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>>Explained: Netanyahu's corruption cases

The so-called Case 1000 involves lavish gifts that the prime minister allegedly received. Case 2000 involves contacts between Netanyahu and Arnon Mozes, in which the prime minister is alleged to have offered legislation favorable to Yedioth Ahronoth in exchange for favorable news coverage for the prime minister.

Case 4000 involves allegations of beneficial regulatory treatment for the Bezeq telecommunications firm in exchange for favorable news coverage for Netanyahu on Bezeq’s Walla news website through alleged contacts with Shaul and Iris Elovitch.

On March 15, Israeli Justice Minister Amir Ohana, Netanyahu’s close ally, announced that emergency measures will be put in place to counter the spread of coronavirus, affecting the workings of Israel's courts.

Consequently, a district court announced that Netanyahu’s trial, initially slated for March 17, would be postponed to May 24.

Ohana later said that the decision to postpone the trial was made solely by the judges on the panel set for the trial, "without any involvement" by politicians.

The justice minister’s decision to freeze the courts’ activities came days after Jerusalem's District Court rejected a request by Netanyahu's defense team to delay his trial by 45 days, on the grounds that they did not receive the full investigation materials.

The deputy director general of the Health Ministry, Itamar Grotto said the Ministry had not recommended that the courts stop their activities. "We think that government institutions, both the Knesset and the judicial system, are two bodies that must continue their activity," Grotto told Army Radio. "As far as we're concerned, these are essential institutions."

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