Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands at a hearing at the district court in Jerusalem, Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Reuven Castro, Pool)
02-08-2021 CBN News Jerusalem Emily Jones
JERUSALEM, Israel – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared in a Jerusalem courtroom for the second time on Monday to stand trial for the corruption charges against him.
The prime minister formally pleaded not guilty after his court date was delayed multiple times due to Israel’s nationwide lockdown. Last year, Israel’s Attorney General indicted Netanyahu for fraud, breach of trust, and accepting bribes in three separate corruption cases.
Prosecutors accuse him of accepting extravagant gifts from wealthy friends and offering to grant political favors to powerful media tycoons in exchange for positive coverage of him.Related
Netanyahu denies all allegations and claims law enforcement and journalists have orchestrated a “witch hunt.” Netanyahu is Israel’s longest-serving prime minister and refuses to step down while standing trial, much to the ire of his political opponents. Israeli law requires Cabinet members to resign when charged with a crime but does not mandate that the prime minister step down.
Protesters gathered outside the courthouse and could be heard from inside during the hearing. The Israeli public cannot watch the legal proceedings against the prime minister. Instead, CCTV footage was broadcast to journalists in another room, The Times of Israel reports.
Monday’s hearing focused on procedural issues, witch Netanyahu’s lawyers arguing that the attorney general had not properly approved the investigations into the prime minister in writing. The prosecution rejected those arguments, saying the attorney general had approved the investigations during many meetings.
Israel is just weeks from its fourth national election in two years. Polls show Netanyahu’s Likud Party winning the most seats in Israel’s parliament, but struggling to form a 61-seat majority.
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