AG said willing to allow Netanyahu corruption trial to be broadcast live
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AG said willing to allow Netanyahu corruption trial to be broadcast live

Prime minister will have to agree, but has in the past asked for some of his legal proceedings to be public; trial set to start later this month after coronavirus delay

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset on November 20, 2019 (left), Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit addresses the press in Jerusalem on November 21, 2019. (Gali Tibon, Menahem Kahana / AFP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset on November 20, 2019 (left), Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit addresses the press in Jerusalem on November 21, 2019. (Gali Tibon, Menahem Kahana / AFP)

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is likely to approve letting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial be broadcast live if the premier agrees, Channel 12 news reported Friday.

Citing sources close to Mandelblit, the report said the decision was made in a meeting to prepare for the trial expected to start on May 24. The initiative comes following an appeal from the Globes newspaper to live broadcast the trial.

The sources said Netanyahu would have to agree, but noted that in November last year, the prime minister had requested that his pre-indictment hearing be broadcast live.

“After three years of a deluge of biased, partial leaks, the time has come for the public to hear everything. Including my side, in a complete and full manner — without mediators, without censorship and without distortions,” Netanyahu said in a video uploaded to his social media channels at the time.

Netanyahu’s trial was pushed off by two months, two days before the scheduled March 17 opening hearing, after Justice Minister Amir Ohana declared a “state of emergency” in the court system in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

The prime minister faces seven counts of three criminal charges: fraud and breach of trust in Cases 1000 and 2000, and bribery, fraud and breach of trust in Case 4000.

Netanyahu in November became Israel’s first sitting prime minister with charges against him, when Mandelblit announced he would indict him. The charges were only filed officially in January, when the prime minister dropped a bid for Knesset immunity.

Netanyahu denies the charges and claims he is the victim of an attempted “political coup” involving the opposition, media, police and state prosecutors.

The Jerusalem District Court previously rejected Netanyahu’s request to delay the start of the corruption trial.

On Thursday Netanyahu was tasked by President Reuven Rivlin with forming the next government, which is expected to be announced and sworn in next week.

Eleven justices of the High Court of Justice attend a hearing on petitions filed against the proposed government, at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on May 3, 2020. (Yossi Zamir/Pool)

Rivlin passed the baton to Netanyahu hours after receiving the signatures of 72 Knesset members endorsing him to lead the government, and hours before a deadline that would trigger a fourth round of elections.

It is the third time in a year that Rivlin has given Netanyahu a shot at forming the Knesset, but unlike previous instances, the Likud leader is widely expected to actually succeed and forge a power-sharing coalition with rival-turned-partner Benny Gantz and other allies who have already agreed to join them.

Already in power for over a decade, Netanyahu will now likely be prime minister for at least another 18 months, as he fights the corruption charges.

On Wednesday, the High Court of Justice court again shot down a petition to disqualify the Likud head, but hinted that future challenges may still be considered. It also declined to strike down legislative changes being made as part of the Netanyahu-Gantz power-sharing agreement, while admitting that there were “significant difficulties.”

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