In Brief: Netanyahu enters not guilty plea as corruption case resumes

Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo:, CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Benjamin Netanyahu appeared in Jerusalem’s District Court to formally enter a plea of not guilty as his trial on corruption charges resumed this week. The prime minister is accused of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three separate cases. He is the first serving Israeli prime minister to go on trial. Netanyahu, who was greeted by hundreds of protesters calling upon him to resign as he arrived at the courthouse, has repeatedly labelled the case a “witchhunt” pursued by political opponents who cannot beat him at the polls. Under Israeli law, a prime minister is not required to resign until they have exhausted all appeals in any legal case. Ehud Olmert, who was later sent to prison, chose to step down as prime minister in 2008 when it became clear he was going to be indicted. In “Case 1000”, Netanyahu is accused of receiving gifts – including cigars, jewellery and champagne – from wealthy businessmen in exchange for favours. In “Case 2000”, the prime minister is charged with offering to improve the circulation of the Yediot Ahronot newspaper in return for positive coverage. In “Case 3000”, the most serious case, he is accused of using his position as communications minister to push regulatory decisions helpful to the Bezeq communications giant. In return, Bezeq’s principal shareholder, Shaun Elovitch, swayed coverage of Netanyahu on his Walla news website. Knesset speaker Yariv Levin has called for the introduction of evidence and testimony in the trial to be postponed until after the general election, saying the court would otherwise be “meddling” in the electoral process. Read full article