Years after Israeli Intelligence reportedly caught Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offering to grant favors to Israel's media moguls in exchange for positive press coverage for himself and his family, Netanyahu has pleaded not guilty in his corruption trial.
According to the Associated Press, Netanyahu was indicted with charges of fraud, breach of trust, and accepting bribes in three separate cases.
The Attorney General said he would be pressing charges against Netanyahu in November of 2019, marking the first-ever time a sitting prime minister faces criminal charges.
According to The Times of Israel, "Netanyahu will be charged with fraud and breach of trust in Cases 1000 and 2000, and bribery, fraud and breach of trust in Case 4000, the state prosecution said in a statement."
Netanyahu is reportedly claiming that he is the victim of a coup attempt by Israel's police. He said the "tainted investigation process, including inventing new crimes, has reached its apex today. It horrifies not only me, but masses of citizens in Israel, and not only on the right… This tainted process raises questions among the public about the police’s investigations and the prosecution. The public has lost trust in these institutions. It’s a process that’s taken place over many years. This is selective enforcement on steroids. It’s enforcement just for me."
However, Israel's Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, stated, "In the prime minister’s affairs I found there was evidence pointing to grave actions allegedly being committed, which carry a reasonable likelihood of conviction. For this reason, it is my duty by law to indict. It is not a choice. It is an obligation. Thus, it is in the case of any citizen, and thus I acted here."
According to the Associated Press, Netanyahu's lawyers argued the case should be dismissed on procedural grounds since the AG did not order the investigation in writing. They claimed that Constitutional procedures were not followed in the investigation.
On Monday, Netanyahu left about 20 minutes into the hearing, with his stated reason being he had nothing to add to what his attorneys argued. Rather than hear the arguments fully, the justices appeared to be skeptical and told them to wrap up their defense. The prosecution stated the defense was wrong and that the AG provided authorization in dozens of meetings.
The Times of Israel reports Netanyahu received permission from the Judge to leave and, after the four-hour hearing, no decision was made. They are set to announce a decision on when to continue the trial in the coming days, with both sides saying they would need time before the evidentiary phase of the trial can happen.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Amir Levy/Stringer
John Paluska has been a contributor for Christian Headlines since 2016 and is the founder of The Washington Gazette, a news outlet he relaunched in 2019 as a response to the constant distribution of fake news.