Netanyahu Appeals for Delay to Trial in Corruption Cases

Rival Benny Gantz blasts prime minister for allegedly attempting to evade trial, says 'it has begun'

Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives to a nomination ceremony at Israeli President Reuven Rivlin's residence in Jerusalem, September 25, 2019.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives to a nomination ceremony at Israeli President Reuven Rivlin's residence in Jerusalem, September 25, 2019.Credit: RONEN ZVULUN / REUTERS
Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appealed on Monday to the Jerusalem District Court to postpone his trial in three corruption cases by 45 days.

The prosecutor's office informed the court in response that it opposed the request, but would allow Netanyahu to be absent from the opening hearing. The prime minister, who has been charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust, is scheduled to appear in court on March 17

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Netanyahu's main rival for the premiership  in Israel's last election, Kahol Lavan's Benny Gantz, blasted the prime minister on Twitter, accusing him of attempting to evade justice. 

"It has begun," Gantz said. "Rejection – evasion – override," the lawmaker said, referring to a clause promoted by Netanyahu's political camp, which would see the authority of Israel's judicial branch superseded by the legislature.

Gantz's party is attempting to gain legislative support for a bill that would bar an indicted politician from leading a government. If passed, the bill would only take effect in case Israel goes to a fourth election.

On Sunday, the prime minister's legal team asked the prosecution for a stay based on a disagreement on the way investigation materials were transferred. The prime minister's team said that they had not received all the materials related to the investigation, and that since hearings took place in October, they have still not received the files in full.

The prosecution has prepared the materials in full for Netanyahu's defense team, but the prime minister's attorneys have not come forward to receive them, and are requesting that the prosecution scan the files for them. 

In his letter to the district attorney, Netanyahu's lawyer wrote that the State Prosecutor's Office has not yet taken a position on delaying the trial, and the appeal was therefore filed without it. He noted that the prosecution said on Sunday that digital materials from the investigation and other files are still unavailable. 

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