The corruption trial involving Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu resumed on Dec. 4, amid the country’s almost two months of military offensives against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
According to France24, the trial was suspended after the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas – formally the Islamic Resistance Movement – on southern Israel. The attack resulted in more than 1,200 fatalities and 240 individuals being abducted as per Israeli officials.
Netanyahu – the longest-serving Israeli premier and leader of the right-wing Likud party – is accused of bribery fraud and breach of trust, allegations which he has denied. His Likud allies have denounced the “politically motivated” accusations, claiming that these stemmed from a proposed judicial overhaul that would have curbed some powers held by the courts.
Lawmaker David Amsalem, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, dubbed the resumption of judicial proceedings amid the ongoing conflict a “disgrace.” He wrote on the X platform: “War? Captives? No, no. The most important thing now is to renew Netanyahu’s trial.” (Related: Netanyahu promises to turn Gaza into “rubble” following Hamas attack – they will pay “unprecedented price.”)
“The high-profile trial is expected to last several more months,” said the news channel owned by the French state. “An appeals process, if necessary, could take years.”
The trial against the Israeli leader touches on three cases. In one of them, prosecutors allege that Netanyahu and Shaul Elovitch – owner of the Israeli telecommunications firm Bezeq – conspired on a mutually beneficial deal. In exchange for positive coverage on Walla News, which is owned by Bezeq, Netanyahu will grant regulatory favors to the company.
Another case touches on Netanyahu’s relationship with Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and other wealthy personalities. The Israeli prime minister is suspected of promoting a tax project that would yield Milchan millions of dollars. However, the Israeli Ministry of Finance has since vetoed this proposal.
According to prosecutors, Netanyahu allegedly received gifts valued at 700,000 Israeli shekels ($195,000) between 2007 and 2016. These gifts from Milchan include boxes of cigars, bottles of champagne and jewelry – all in exchange for financial or personal favors.
Witnesses testify against Netanyahu
In June, Milchan virtually took the stand and testified via video link from the United Kingdom where he is based. He recounted how his gift-giving to the Netanyahus became routine – with the producer, the prime minister and the first lady developing codes to refer to the different types of gifts. Milchan also mentioned giving his personal assistant “carte blanche” to fulfill any request the Netanyahu couple might make.”
The producer later recounted that the gifts didn’t affect his friendship with the Netanyahus until a police investigation was opened. It was then that he realized the gifts were “excessive,” with Milchan lamenting to police how he was uncomfortable with his gifts not being reciprocated.
In September, former Walla News editor Avi Alkalay took the stand concerning the case involving Elovitch. He told prosecutors of the relentless pressure on the site’s editorial staff to slant its coverage in Netanyahu’s favor from 2015 to 2016.
According to Alkalay, the staffers at Walla News had undergone “very aggressive mental coercion regarding the content relating to the Netanyahu family.” He continued: “The pressure was there all the time and the intervention was in all areas.”
The former editor also recounted that interventions on behalf of Elovitch sought to portray the Netanyahus as “always good and in the right, both on political matters and on personal issues.” He told prosecutors: “They commonly asked to contradict or change an opinion expressed by a reporter or the significance … of a story.”
Meanwhile, Netanyahu – also the country’s first incumbent prime minister to stand trial – denied all the allegations. He claimed that he merely accepted gifts from friends without him asking. The prime minister’s lawyers said in October 2019 that, according to an expert legal opinion, he had a right to accept gifts from close friends.
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Watch former Spanish Social Rights Minister Ione Bellara call for Netanyahu to be held accountable before the International Criminal Court.
This video is from the Fritjof Persson channel on Brighteon.com.
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