First of Four-day Netanyahu Pre-indictment Hearing Ends After 11 Hours

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Ram Caspi (L), the prime minister's lawyer, arrives at the Ministry of Justice in Jerusalem on October 2, 2019 ahead of the pre-indictment hearing
Ram Caspi (L), the prime minister's lawyer, arrives at the Ministry of Justice in Jerusalem on October 2, 2019 ahead of the pre-indictment hearing Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

The first day of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's pre-indictment hearing with Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit ended Wednesday after 11 hours.

As the hearing at the Justice Ministry in Jerusalem concluded, one of Netanyahu's attorneys said that "the attorney general was very attentive to the arguments we presented, which were very detailed, comprehensive, and based on substantial new material that contradicts the allegations against the prime minister."

"We are not done yet. We are only halfway through, and will resume [presenting our arguments] tomorrow," added the attorney, arguing on Netanyahu's behalf in Case 4000, in which the premier could be charged with bribery and fraud and breach of trust.

>> Read more: 3 cases, 4 days and dozens of lawyers: Netanyahu's pre-indictment hearing beginsThis is how Netanyahu's attorneys will try to save him from trial

Before the hearing began on Wednesday morning, Netanyahu's attorneys said that a plea deal, which has been rumored but not officially presented, is not on the agenda.

The hearing will span three additional days, ending on Monday evening – a day before the eve of Yom Kippur.

Netanyahu's lawyers crammed in across from some 20 Justice Ministry officials who have been following the prime minister's corruption cases since 2016. By December, only several weeks away, the Justice Ministry aspires to reach a final decision.

"We are going to present the evidence everyone knows, and new evidence as well," said Netanyahu attorney Amit Hadad as he entered the hearing. "We are certain that when we finish presenting … there will be no choice but close the case." Hadad added that "all three cases should and must be closed. A plea deal is not on the agenda."

The first two days of the hearing focus on Case 4000, which centers on suspicions Netanyahu acted to benefit media mogul Shaul Elovitch in return for favorable news coverage. Early next week the hearing will center around Cases 1000 and 2000 – gifts in exchange for political favors, and legislation in exchange for favorable coverage, respectively.

At the head of the Justice Ministry's team stands the man who will ultimately decide whether or not to file an indictment – Attorney General Mendelblit. He will be joined by State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan, the lead prosecutor on Netanyahu cases Liat Ben-Ari, Deputy State Prosecutor Nurit Litman, and the Deputy Attorney Generals Raz Nizri and Amit Merari, among others.

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