The second day of the hearing process in the criminal cases against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ended Thursday night after long hours of discussion, with one of the prime minister’s attorneys continuing to express confidence that the charges against the premier would be withdrawn.
“We continued to present our arguments in Case 4000 today,” attorney Amit Hadad told reporters, emerging from the 11-hour-long session. “The arguments were compelling and were closely listened to [by the state prosecution].”
He repeated his refrain from the previous day that “at the end of the hearing there will be no choice but to close the cases.”
There were no immediate details on the contents of Thursday’s talks.
Haaretz reported that despite plans to complete discussions on Case 4000 on Thursday, they were expected to continue into Sunday.
Sunday and Monday had originally been planned to focus on Cases 1000 and 2000.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit was said to be considering adding one more day to the process, though it was not immediately clear when that final day would be held, as on Tuesday evening and Wednesday the country marks the High Holy Day of Yom Kippur.
Netanyahu’s legal team had similarly claimed on Wednesday that it had presented justice officials with new and strong evidence that refuted the suspicions against the prime minister in Case 4000.
But unnamed prosecution officials told Channel 12 and Haaretz that this was an inaccurate portrayal, and that they were already familiar with most of the evidence Netanyahu’s attorneys had leaned on.
Case 4000, in which the prime minister faces an indictment for bribery as well as fraud and breach of trust, concerns suspicions that Netanyahu pushed regulatory decisions that benefited Shaul Elovitch, the former controlling shareholder of the Bezeq telecommunications group, in return for ongoing positive coverage on Elovitch’s Walla news site.
It is considered to be the most serious of the three cases faced by the premier.
Netanyahu did not accompany his lawyers to the hearing, instead attending the swearing-in ceremony for the 22nd Knesset, the future of which is already in doubt amid a political deadlock and no clear path for him to form a government. The ongoing logjam brought an unprecedented two rounds of elections within five months and threatens to lead to a third.
Case 1000, which was originally set to be discussed on Sunday but which could now be pushed back, involves suspicions that Netanyahu received tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of gifts from wealthy benefactors. Mandelblit said he intends to charge Netanyahu with fraud and breach of trust in the case.
In Case 2000 Netanyahu is accused of agreeing with Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes to weaken a rival daily in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth. In this case, Mandelblit will seek to charge the premier with breach of trust, while Mozes will be charged with bribery.
Netanyahu has repeatedly claimed he is the subject of a witch hunt and questioned the legitimacy of the decision-making process in the justice system.