In Israel for the first time in the history of the country, the Prime Minister, who is in office, appeared before the court. The dubious honor was awarded to Benjamin Netanyahu. As it happened – DW.
In mid-may, Benjamin Netanyahu officially assumed the position of Prime Minister of Israel – for the fifth time during his long political career. And on may 24, he appeared before the court. Israel began the loud process on the case of Netanyahu, who is accused of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. He Israeli Prime Minister categorically rejects all the accusations, calling the trial politically motivated “witch hunt”.
Coronavirus prevented the beginning of loud process
Reporter Aviad Glickman is one of those who will follow this dramatic court case. “I remember how three years ago the police appeared at the residence of Netanyahu,” says the journalist, who will comment on Israeli television everything in the court room. “For the first time in the history of Israel in the dock – the current Prime Minister of the country,” says Glickman.
The trial of Netanyahu was to begin in mid-March, but due to the pandemic coronavirus it was moved. The then justice Minister Amir Ohana, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud, announced the introduction of a state of emergency, and courts began to operate only in cases of emergency. Consider the case Netanyahu was scheduled hearing.
A petition his lawyers that the Prime Minister should not personally be present at the first hearing, the court rejected. This does not mean that Netanyahu will have to be at each meeting. He may, but need not, as the process will take time, and the Prime Minister should run the government, the lawyers explained. “To lawyers, Netanyahu could well do their job, they need to stay in contact with him, he needs to know everything in detail. This is especially important at a time when they shall hear the testimony of witnesses,” said Amir Fuchs, an expert in the field of law from the Israeli democracy Institute (IDI).
Three things Netanyahu
More than three years lasted the investigation of the Israeli police, following which the country’s Prosecutor General, avihai Mandelblit charged with Netanyahu for three different cases: “case 1000”, “business 2000” and “4000”. The so-called “case of 1000” Benjamin Netanyahu accused that he has for many years received expensive gifts, including from Hollywood producer Arnon Milchen and Australian billionaire James Packer. Wife and son Netanyahu, according to the indictment, also received expensive gifts: cigars, champagne, jewelry, tickets – all this was drawn for a total amount of 230 thousand euros.
In the “case of 2000”, as in the previous, according to the prosecution, there are indications of fraud and breach of trust by the Prime Minister. According to the materials of the investigation, Netanyahu had apparently agreed with the founder of the Israeli newspaper Jediot Achronot by Arnon Moses that this daily newspaper has given information in favor of it. Protection of the Prime Minister rejects the accusation, pointing out that such purpose did not exist.
In the “case of 4000” we are talking about the so-called quid pro quo – arrangement for the rendering of mutual services between Netanyahu and the media Mogul Sha’ul Lovecam, the then shareholder of the largest telecommunication companies of Israel “Bezeq”. In this case the Prime Minister accused that he, being Minister of communications, has been providing legal support and promoted the interests of the “Bezeq”. In exchange, Netanyahu allegedly repeatedly able to intervene in the work led by Lovecam news portal Wallа to influence the coverage of events. In this case the Prime Minister is accused of bribery, breach of trust and fraud.
Protest against Netanyahu
On the background of the trial, Israeli society was divided into supporters and opponents of the Prime Minister. Retired Colonel Rami Matan is one of those who regularly goes to the protest against the Prime Minister. “From a moral point of view, it is incorrect that before lunch Netanyahu heads the government and is engaged in public Affairs, and in the afternoon have to defend yourself in court,” says Matan. He, along with other ex-military protests in front of the residence of the Prime Minister: “Netanyahu must take care to prove his innocence, to resign as Prime Minister and leave us and the country alone.”
Meanwhile, Netanyahu and his supporters believe the protests a conspiracy by the journalists, the judiciary and the left political forces. “In the camp “right” charges are considered as fakes. In the camp of the “left” want Netanyahu took – adds URI Dromi, the head of the Jerusalem press club and former spokesman of the Israeli government. – And there are lots of people who say that the country has a judicial system that we trust her and will just see what happens.”
Not the first time Israeli policies of the highest rank appear in court and even in prison. But all of them at the time of prosecution will not hold any public office, resigning, as, for example, Ehud Olmert (former Prime Minister), who was convicted for bribery. If the Ministers in respect of which the indicted, forced to resign, then the Prime Minister, according to the law, could remain in his post until then, until his guilt or innocence is proved in court and the case is closed.
Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t want to retire. After three parliamentary campaigns held during the year, followed by a long political lull, he even managed to strengthen their position. During a pandemic a rating of Netanyahu grew, and within 18 months he will remain Prime Minister, ruling the country together with his former political rival benny Ganz in the government of national unity. The post of Prime Minister next year and a half will take Netanyahu and then he will go to Ganz, who broke a campaign promise not to join a coalition with the accused in the Commission of criminal offences by the leader of Likud.