The trial of Benjamin Netanyahu reopens on July 19 as the popular outcry against the government intensifies a little more each day in Israel. Started on May 24, the Prime Minister's trial, tried for corruption, fraud and breach of trust in three cases, was quickly adjourned at the request of defense lawyers.

This dilatory strategy still seems to be in force. Sunday morning, the Prime Minister's lawyers obtained the postponement of the hearings of the witnesses who will be heard, three times a week, from January 2021. A victory for the defense because it allows to postpone the end of this historic trial on an undetermined date. "There are 333 witnesses in the indictment ... We are far from seeing the end of it," tweeted Antoine Gendron, correspondent for Liberation in the Middle East.

Interesting detail: the auditions will be held at the rate of three per week. And there are 333 witnesses in the indictment ... We are far from seeing the end of it.

- Guillaume Gendron (@g_gendron) July 19, 2020

The defense also claimed an additional six months to examine all the documents in the file "because a lawyer has just joined the team," said Antoine Mariotti, France 24 correspondent in Israel. And this while this newcomer, Me Yossi Segev, revealed to the Jerusalem district court that he had been hired for this hearing only. 

Last argument in favor of postponement: it would be impossible, according to the defense, to hold a trial in time of coronavirus. The lawyers argue that "with masks, it is impossible to know who is telling the truth", explains Antoine Mariotti who notes that many trials are held in Israel and elsewhere under the same conditions. 

#Netanyahu's lawyers tell the judges that it is impossible to hold a trial during the #coronavirus because with the masks it is impossible to know who is telling the truth. However, all the other trials in the country are held normally ... #Israel

- Antoine Mariotti (@antoinemariotti) July 19, 2020

"Liar" and "manipulator: the distrust of the people

If the Prime Minister has pleaded innocent since the start of the affair and denounced a plot, the people already find him guilty. "It's been several years that there have been regular demonstrations against Benjamin Netanyahu" which weigh against him, said Antoine Mariotti. 

Israel: protests of discontent "never seen in 25 years"

A rally was held in Jerusalem on Saturday outside the residence of the Israeli Prime Minister to demand his resignation. "Democracy", "liar" and "manipulator", could be read on the signs brandished by the few hundred demonstrators present. The demonstration, which continued late into the night, was the scene of violent clashes between the police and demonstrators. 

1 am, still several hundred demonstrators gathered in front of the #Netanyahu residence in # Jerusalem to demand his resignation. Very big (and unusual) demonstration this evening. The second also important in the week. #Israel #corona #corruption

- Antoine Mariotti (@antoinemariotti) July 18, 2020

In the coastal city of Tel Aviv, thousands of protesters also protested the management of the health and economic crisis, following the entry into force of new restrictions. To "avoid general containment due to the sharp increase in moron from coronavirus", authorities announced on Friday that most non-essential businesses and public places will be closed on weekends until further notice. There too, events went wrong with the police and 13 people were arrested, says Antoine Mariotti. 

Summer vibes in Tel Aviv ...

- Guillaume Gendron (@g_gendron) July 19, 2020

Israel did not go the distance 

Erected as a model at the start of the crisis, Israel has not kept up. The country, which has about nine million inhabitants, has quickly reopened its beaches, restaurants, gyms and non-essential shops. But the number of new patients has started to rise as the deconfinement and the unemployment rate has jumped in recent months, exceeding 20%.

To calm social discontent, the Prime Minister recently announced a plan of 90 billion shekels (about 22.5 billion euros), including aid for "all citizens". But according to a survey by channel 13 published this week, 61% of voters are "dissatisfied" with its management of the epidemic. Israel has officially registered more than 49,000 infections and 400 deaths.

With AFP 

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