• Home
  • keyboard_arrow_right Israel News
  • keyboard_arrow_right Corruption trial for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu begins

Israel News

Corruption trial for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu begins

CM 05/04/2021

share close
The prosecution said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu abused his power as part of a wide-ranging media bribery scheme in its opening statement for his public corruption trial on Monday.
Prosecutor Liat Ben Ari said Netanyahu “abused his power to give illegal benefits in coordination with central media outlets to further his personal interests.”
“Everyone is equal in the eyes of the law and all people are equal before the court and the judges, the great and the small, the rich and the poor. The powerful and the simple,” she said.
She called the cases one of the gravest in Israel’s history.

Ben Ari said that the question for the court is not whether the articles at the Walla media outlet were done objectively or were balanced at a given moment, but what was the illegal influence behind the scenes leading to those articles.
She said that the real story here is about power, referencing the power of Netanyahu as prime minister, of top media tycoons and of attempts to influence the course of the country’s elections (including in 2013 and 2015.) 
The prosecutor emphasized that “no one” other than Netanyahu as prime minister “had the full power to convey the benefits” to the tycoons in the case (who are also defendants) that they sought.
The benefits given by Netanyahu to Bezeq and Walla owner Shaul Elovitch were worth hundreds of millions of shekels, said Ben Ari.
The trial at the Jerusalem District Court is starting with the prosecution’s outline of the three public corruption affairs followed by the initial witness in the first-ever public corruption trial of a sitting prime minister.
Netanyahu is currently present and is expected to remain until the end of the prosecution’s opening statement and then to leave before the first witness, former Walla CEO Ilan Yeshua, is called to the stand.
Prosecutors Liat Ben Ari and Yehudit Tirosh is facing off against Netanyahu’s lawyers Boaz Ban Tzur and Amit Hadad as judges Rivkah Friedman-Feldman, Moshe Bar-Am and Oded Shaham referee.  
Last week, Netanyahu appeared to try to get out of attending the hearing at all until he ran into opposition from the prosecution.
Late last Wednesday, a spokesman for Netanyahu said: “Since the prime minister had no connection with Ilan Yeshua, and therefore his presence would not contribute anything in any way to the hearing, Netanyahu’s lawyers will request an exemption from the questioning of Yeshua. This is an accepted request in cases similar to this one.”
However, in response to Netanyahu’s lawyers, the prosecution said: “The prosecution believes that there is a substantive need for the defendant [Netanyahu] to be present for the opening statement, which has the status of opening the entire prosecution case, both in terms of the defendant hearing the allegations directly and without intermediaries, and in terms of the perception of doing justice.”
Regarding hearing Yeshua’s testimony, the prosecution said there were legal arguments to be made both for Netanyahu being present or having the right to absent himself, since the idea of being present is designed to protect the rights of defendants, not to impose on their time.
Netanyahu has sought to avoid attending hearings for his trial, with Monday being only the third time he will show up personally, despite around a dozen pretrial hearings having taken place since last May.
Some groups have tried to argue that he must legally resign as prime minister given the toll that the trial is expected to take on his time.
The trial is expected to run on a weekly basis on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. until its conclusion – a potentially major distraction expected to last between one to three years.
Netanyahu appears to want to avoid such allegations as well as to keep perceptions of him focused on positive vibes, such as his management of foreign affairs or the coronavirus vaccine rollout, and away from the corruption allegations.
The prosecution and the court until now have shown flexibility about his attendance.
But it is expected that Netanyahu will want to attend or will be compelled to attend when key state’s witnesses testify against him for illegal orders they are expected to say he gave them to carry out.
NETANYAHU IS accused of bribery for illegally influencing government communications policy in exchange for positive media coverage in Case 4000, the Bezeq-Walla Affair.
In Case 2000, the Yediot Aharonot-Israel Hayom Affair, he is accused of breach of trust for trying to reduce Israel Hayom’s competitiveness in exchange for more positive coverage from Yediot.
In Case 1000, the Illegal Gifts Affair, he is accused of breach of trust for receiving expensive cigars and champagne valued at nearly NIS 700,000. The gifts were received from people with whom he may have had a conflict of interest for trying to help them in the business sector.
According to the amended indictment, from January 17-19, 2013 – days before the election of January 22, 2013 – Netanyahu, through messengers, made no fewer than six demands to Walla owner Shaul Elovitch to influence media coverage positively for him and negatively for Naftali Bennett and the Bayit Yehudi Party.
All of the Netanyahu-Elovitch plans led to the coverage the prime minister sought, including negative coverage of Bennett’s wife allegedly eating at a nonkosher restaurant, in exchange for the prime minister helping Elovitch’s Bezeq obtain NIS 1 billion ($300 million) in profits.
Yeshua, and subsequently other editors and reporters from Walla, are expected to give a detailed description of exactly how they went about fulfilling Netanyahu’s demands, which included numerous takedowns of articles that were good for his competitors.
They will say they knew that these changes went far beyond the typical access-for-coverage arrangements that other politicians regularly make with the media, which for one thing, does not lead to reducing coverage for competitors.
Eventually, there were 315 alleged incidents of Netanyahu interfering with Walla’s news coverage from 2013 until December 2016.
Yeshua was key to breaking open the all-important Case 4000, as the information he gave police led to multiple top Netanyahu aides turning state’s witness against the prime minister.
The former Walla CEO is expected to testify for approximately five full-day hearings, followed by being cross-examined by Netanyahu’s lawyers and lawyers for Elovitch – all of which could easily be the trial’s focus until mid-May.

Source: Jerusalem Post

Rate it


The host of Coffee Mouth Scare Crow Show and CEO of 452 Impact, Inc. Here is food for thought. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." John 3:16 "For God so love ed the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved."

list Archive


Post comments

This post currently has no comments.

Leave a reply