Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial resumed on Monday in the Jerusalem District Court, amid the ongoing war against the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip.
The trial was suspended along with all other non-urgent cases two months ago due to Hamas’s bloody October 7 incursion, when some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip, killing some 1,200 people and seizing over 240 hostages.
Following the expiration on Thursday of the emergency footing that Justice Minister Yariv Levin put in place for the courts when the war with Hamas began, Levin gave instructions for most courts to resume normal operations Friday.
At the beginning of Monday’s session, state prosecutor Yehudit Tirosh said that the prosecution in Case 4000, which involves allegations that Netanyahu handed the Shaul Elovitch-owned Bezeq telecom giant regulatory benefits in exchange for editorial intervention in the Walla news outlet, also owned by Walla, will be finished presenting its case by January. Netanyahu is charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in the case.
Tirosh added that it would likely take another month or two after January to wrap up the prosecution in Case 1000, which concerns gifts the prime minister allegedly inappropriately received from billionaire benefactors, and Case 2000, in which he allegedly negotiated to obtain positive media coverage in the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper in exchange for curtailing its competitors.
Netanyahu is accused of fraud and breach of trust in those two cases.
The court was also set to decide on a schedule for the hearings. Elovitch’s defense attorneys have requested two days per week, down from three, to accommodate for legal staff called up for reserve duty amid the ongoing war with Hamas.
Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing in the cases against him and claims that the charges were fabricated in a witch hunt led by the police and state prosecution.
The trial began three years ago and, as things stand, the proceedings, including potential appeals, have been seen as unlikely to end before 2028-2029. In late June, it was reported that the judges consider the bribery charge against the premier difficult to prove, and that they convened with state prosecutors and Netanyahu’s defense team to discuss the possibility of a plea bargain.
In October 2019, his lawyers said they had received an expert legal opinion that concluded he had a right to accept gifts from close friends.
Jeremy Sharon and Michael Bachner contributed to this report.