Israel: Netanyahu's corruption trial opens, undermining coalition

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, shortly before a speech in Jerusalem, March 14, 2020. Gali Tibbon / Pool via REUTERS

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Re-appointed to his post a short time ago, the Prime Minister is scheduled to appear this Sunday, May 24, for the first time in court. Charged in three cases, he will have to explain himself on suspicion of corruption. Claiming his innocence, Benyamin Netanyahu has multiplied attacks on the justice system. But for the first time in Israel, a head of government finds himself on the dock.


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File 67-104-01-20, the State of Israel against Benjamin Netanyahu . This is the title that the Israeli Prime Minister did everything to avoid. However, he made the front page of the country's leading daily newspaper and critic of power , Yedioth Ahronoth , with the photo he also did not want to see on the front page of the newspaper: his portrait crossed out with the words "  on the dock  ". Citizen Netanyahu,  " said Israel Hayom. The free daily close to the government says that it is actually a battle over the identity of the country, reports our correspondent in Jerusalem, Michel Paul .

The newspapers in Israel are unanimous: it is the hour of truth for "Bibi", as he is nicknamed. A “  trial in the middle of a storm,  ” says Maariv , which describes the general atmosphere of a battle for the survival of the Prime Minister.

The press recalls, of course, the three counts: breach of trust, fraud and above all corruption. The newspapers also present the three other personalities in the accused's box.

Defenders of Netanyahu are determined to fight to the last inch, says the liberal daily Haaretz , which recalls the efforts of the Israeli Prime Minister over the past 18 months to escape justice . And in this newspaper, a columnist underlines that all the subjects other than his trial, including the occupation of the territories, are relegated to the background and for a long time.

Attempts to " politicize " the justice system

The police chief, the state prosecutor and then the attorney general: in recent years, the executives of the judicial system have all been publicly attacked by Benyamin Netanyahu , the Prime Minister accusing them of "  witch-hunting  ".

These invective and accusations weaken the judiciary, said Yuval Shany. You have to choose your side ," analyzes the vice-president in charge of research at the Israeli Institute for Democracy, at the microphone of our correspondent in Jerusalem, Guilhem Delteil . If you are with Netanyahu, you oppose the judiciary. If you are with the justice system, then you must be on the left. And that politicizes a system that for years has been considered above the political arena.  "

Benny Gantz and Bleu-Blanc in a “ very delicate ” position

In the government agreement , the Blue-White movement of Benny Gantz, who campaigned against what he described as attacks on the rule of law by Benyamin Netanyahu , demanded to obtain the ministry of Justice.

These media attacks by the Prime Minister and his allies will be a major challenge, warns Yuval Shany: “  This will put Bleu-Blanc in a very delicate political position. They will find themselves between the hammer and the anvil because they will have to defend the Court publicly, but this will weaken their agreement with Likud more and more . "

In his first week, the new Minister of Justice had to denounce the words of one of his colleagues, a member of Likoud, who described the Attorney General as an "  alleged criminal  ".

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  • Israel
  • Benyamin netanyahu
  • Corruption
  • Justice
  • Benny Gantz

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