In the midst of the war against Hamas, the corruption trial of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu resumed on Monday (4 November) in Jerusalem, about two months after it was suspended due to the bloody attack on the Palestinian Islamist movement on 7 October.

Benjamin Netanyahu, 74, faces charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three cases — charges he denies.

In the case being re-examined in the Jerusalem court, the Israeli leader is suspected of trying to secure favorable coverage from the Walla news site in exchange for government favors that may have earned hundreds of millions of dollars for Shaul Elovitch, who was the boss of both Israel's main telecommunications group Bezek and Walla.

Read alsoAfter the trauma of the Hamas attack, the beginning of the end for Benjamin Netanyahu?

In another case, he is suspected of having received large quantities of gifts from wealthy personalities worth about 700,000 shekels (about 176,000 euros). These bribes took the form of cigars, bottles of champagne and jewellery distributed between 2007 and 2016.

Among his alleged benefactors is Israeli Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan, producer of "Brazil," "JFK," "Pretty Woman" and "Natural Born Killers," among others.

No immediate court appearance

Benjamin Netanyahu is suspected of having in return promoted a tax provision that could have earned Arnon Milchan millions of dollars. However, the Ministry of Finance vetoed it.

The Prime Minister claims to have only accepted gifts from friends, without having asked for them, and considers himself the victim of a witch hunt. He will not be called to the stand immediately but could appear in court to testify in a few months, according to the Israeli press.

His trial, which began in 2020, is a first in Israel for a sitting prime minister. Head of the Israeli government from 1996 to 1999 and then from 2009 to 2021, Benjamin Netanyahu has held the post again since the 2022 elections after forming a coalition with ultra-Orthodox and far-right parties.

But the Hamas attack on Israeli territory on 7 October, which killed 1,200 people, the majority of them civilians according to the authorities, and then the entry into war against Hamas, reshuffled the political cards in Israel.

Reduced audiences

Criticized by his opposition for failing to prevent the Hamas attack, the deadliest since Israel's creation 75 years ago, Benjamin Netanyahu was forced to form an emergency government and a war cabinet with his rival, Benny Gantz, a former defense minister.

The two men have vowed to "annihilate" Hamas and have been conducting a devastating campaign of strikes on the Gaza Strip since October 7 that has killed nearly 15,900 people and wounded 42,000, according to Hamas' Health Ministry.

Politicians close to the prime minister have criticised the resumption of hearings in the midst of the war. In any case, these will be reduced due to the mobilization of reservists among witnesses and lawyers.

With AFP

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