Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s graft trial resumed on Sunday after a two-month break amid mounting protests over his alleged corruption and handling of the coronavirus crisis, reports Reuters.
Netanyahu, the first serving Israeli prime minister to go on trial, did not attend what a spokesman for the prosecution said would be a technical discussion.
His presence was not required at the session in Jerusalem District Court, where he appeared in May at the opening of the trial to deny charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.
— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) July 19, 2020
Netanyahu, 70, was indicted in November in cases involving gifts from millionaire friends and for allegedly seeking regulatory favors for media tycoons in return for favorable coverage.
After clinching a coalition deal three months ago with centrist Benny Gantz, his main rival in three inconclusive elections since April 2019, Netanyahu took center stage in ordering restrictions that flattened Israel’s first wave of coronavirus infections.
But after a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases, high unemployment, and reimposed coronavirus curbs in recent weeks, Israelis have taken to the streets in almost daily demonstrations against him, with public anger compounded by the corruption allegations.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's graft trial resumed after a two-month break amid mounting protests over his alleged corruption and handling of the coronavirus crisis https://t.co/wVWjyi4kdx pic.twitter.com/Hdt9dvEC4z
— Reuters (@Reuters) July 19, 2020
On Saturday, police used water cannons to disperse demonstrators around Netanyahu’s Jerusalem residence. In Tel Aviv, Israel’s commercial hub, thousands gathered to demand better state aid to businesses hurt in the health crisis.
Bribery charges carry a sentence of up to 10 years in jail and/or a fine. Fraud and breach of trust carry a prison sentence of up to three years.
(MEMO, PC, Social Media)