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Defiant Netanyahu goes on trial in Israel charged with corruption

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Defiant Netanyahu goes on trial in Israel charged with corruption

By Maayan Lubell and Dan Williams

 

2020-05-24T120501Z_1_LYNXMPEG4N0BI_RTROPTP_4_ISRAEL-NETANYAHU-TRIAL-CABINET.JPG

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the first working cabinet meeting of the new government at the Chagall Hall in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament in Jerusalem May 24, 2020. Abir Sultan/Pool via REUTERS

 

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday became the first serving Israeli prime minister to go on trial, proclaiming his innocence in the corridor before walking into court to face charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

 

The trial came a week after Israel's longest-serving leader was sworn in to a record fifth term, demonstrating his knack for survival by securing an unexpected power-sharing deal with his main opponent after three inconclusive elections in a year. He says the cases against him are a left-wing plot to unseat him.

 

Netanyahu, 70, was indicted in November in cases involving gifts from millionaire friends and for allegedly seeking regulatory favours for media tycoons in return for favourable coverage.

 

He appeared at Jerusalem District Court flanked by a clutch of cabinet ministers from his right-wing Likud party.

 

In the courtroom, Netanyahu and the judges wore face masks because of the coronavirus crisis. One of the judges asked Netanyahu whether he had read and understood the indictment. He replied: "Yes, your Honour."

 

The hearing lasted an hour. The court excused Netanyahu from appearing in person at the next hearing, set for July 19. Israeli analysts say the trial could last months or even years.

 

Before the hearing, Netanyahu appealed to public opinion, taking off his mask to address television cameras in the courthouse hallway.

 

"These investigations were tainted and stitched-up from the first moment," Netanyahu said. "I am appearing here today, as your prime minister, standing tall and with head high," he said.

 

In a statement, Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit said prosecutors "will continue to conduct themselves without fear, even given the preposterous attempt - which should be rejected out of hand - to ascribe ulterior motives to law-enforcement authorities".

 

Supporters, some in masks, rallied outside the East Jerusalem building, their chants of "Bibi, King of Israel", using his nickname, audible in the courthouse. One supporter's sign read: "You'll never walk alone". Many waved blue-and-white Israeli flags.

 

Anti-Netanyahu demonstrators gathered outside his residence in central Jerusalem holding up a banner reading "Crime Minister," a slogan that also appeared on some face masks.

 

Netanyahu, in power now for 11 straight years plus three in the 1990s, kept the position of prime minister by securing the power-sharing deal last month with his main opponent, the centrist former general Benny Gantz.

 

The pact also opens the way for Netanyahu to proceed towards a pledged annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank, land that Palestinians envisage as part of a future independent state.

 

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.

 

(Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Dan Williams and Peter Graff)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2020-05-25
 
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An off topic post and a reply has been removed.

 

A  post of a contentious nature and the replies has been removed.

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Long over due.

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11 hours ago, dexterm said:

I think Netanyahu is guilty. He's been in power too long and power corrupts, thinks he is above the law. Let the evidence speak for itself.

 

Time for the peace process to find new leaders and a new direction.

 

But ironically, Netanyahu is the best friend Palestinians could have. He is sleep walking Israel into a one state solution with Trump cheerleading far more quickly than I ever hoped for. After a painful period of overt apartheid, eventually it will be one man one vote in a single state which will prove the end of the racist supremacist ideology of Zionism..good riddance to that.

Israeli analysts say the trial could last months or even years. Justice is slow,..and will be even slower here !!!

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Glad to hear that he is headed to court.  Yes, it will take a very long time to reach a verdict.  At least the process has begun.  

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On 5/25/2020 at 11:06 AM, spidermike007 said:

Netanyahu has been around too long. Term limits should apply worldwide. Otherwise you end up with spectacularly corrupt men like him, Putin, Xi, and others. This guy is as guilty as the day is long. You barely need a trial. You only have to look at his face, the amount of time he has been in power, and his attitude. 25 years hard time. Bye bye Bibi. In an ideal world you will get what you so wholeheartedly deserve. 

 

Been in power too long? Yes. But then, that's partly to do with the opposition failing to oust him. And while certainly corrupt, the scope of the corruption outlined in the cases he's charged with is nowhere near many other leaders. The case(s) he wasn't charged in (Yet? Wishful thinking), that's where it's at.

 

The idiotic part about this is that a fair bit of the issues he (and previously, his wife) is charged with indicate corruption on a petty level, especially when considering the possible ramifications.

 

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On 5/25/2020 at 5:53 PM, off road pat said:

Israeli analysts say the trial could last months or even years. Justice is slow,..and will be even slower here !!!

 

Israeli analysts (well, some) also said there won't be any trial. That it would be a lengthy affair was certain, even without factoring in Netanyau's expected delaying tactics. The more significant issue at hand is whether he'll manage to push through relevant legislation, appointments and whatnot aimed to derail the ongoing legal process. 

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Good to know this cannot happen in LOS. Everything clean here.😇

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