Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to face the continuation of his long-running trial on multiple corruption charges, with proceedings resuming on Monday after a temporary pause due to the conflict in Gaza.
The trial, taking place in a Jerusalem court, will address various corruption allegations filed against Netanyahu in 2019, known as Case 1000, 2000, and 4000. The charges include fraud, bribery, and breach of trust. Netanyahu, along with his wife Sara, is accused in Case 1000 of accepting gifts, including champagne and cigars, from Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and businessman James Packer in exchange for political favours.
The trial, initially launched in May 2020, has faced repeated delays, including disputes between the defence and prosecution, as well as disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The emergency pause was imposed by the country’s justice minister in response to the conflict initiated by Hamas on October 7.
Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, has consistently denied any wrongdoing, portraying the charges as part of a politically motivated “witch-hunt” orchestrated by rivals and the media.
The resumption of the trial comes amid controversy surrounding Netanyahu’s proposed overhaul of the judicial system. Critics argue that the changes would politicise the judiciary, compromise its independence, foster corruption, and negatively impact Israel’s economy. Months of protests against the proposed reforms had engulfed the country before the Gaza conflict began on October 7.
The international community is closely watching the trial, and there are concerns about the potential impact of Netanyahu’s legal battles on Israel’s political stability. As the trial continues, tensions persist between those advocating for legal accountability and supporters of Netanyahu, who accuse authorities of a biassed approach.
The prime minister is also concurrently accused of using legislative measures to sidestep his legal challenges, further intensifying the political turmoil. Amid these controversies, the trial resumes with uncertainty about its outcome and potential repercussions on Israel’s domestic and international standing.