Witnesses at Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial will give testimony as much as 3 times per week beginning in January, a decide has dominated, opening a high-profile case by which the Israeli chief is accused of bribery, fraud and breach of belief.
Such common court docket appearances and probably explosive testimonies may current an additional picture drawback for the Israeli chief, who’s fighting fresh public discontent and regular protests over his dealing with of a current surge in Covid-19 circumstances.
The 70-year-old prime minister is alleged to have accepted hundreds of thousands of pounds in luxurious presents from billionaire pals and traded invaluable favours with Israeli media and telecoms moguls for beneficial information protection.
Netanyahu, the primary serving Israeli premier to go on trial, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, alleging he’s the sufferer of a politically motivated witch-hunt. He was not required to be current for the second in-court day of a trial that might final years.
In the chamber, the defence tried to postpone the hearings by six months to organize its technique. Netanyahu’s lawyer, Yossi Segev, argued coronavirus restrictions may additionally unduly injury its case.
“How can we carry out a cross-examination when I am in a mask, the witness is in a mask and I don’t know if your honour is angry or happy,” Segev requested Judge Rivka Friedman Feldman, who heads a three-judge panel within the Jerusalem district court docket. The judges rejected the request, saying they might proceed even throughout a lockdown.
Israel, with a inhabitants of 9 million, has reported nearly 50,000 coronavirus circumstances and 400 deaths, with current every day an infection figures rising near 2,000. The authorities mentioned on Friday it was pressured to reimpose some lockdown measures, putting in stringent weekend shutdowns and shuttering gyms and indoor eating at eating places.
During the pandemic, unemployment in Israel has risen above 20%, and the brand new measures are prone to injury the economic system additional.
In the face of public criticism, Netanyahu has introduced a number of financial assist packages. On Wednesday, the embattled chief was accused of deflecting public anger by proposing cash handouts to all Israelis. One distinguished Israeli columnist, Ben Caspit, criticised the plan because the equal of “handing out bribes to the masses”.
On Saturday night time, police used water cannon to disperse demonstrators round Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem, whereas hundreds additionally gathered in Tel Aviv.
A police spokesman mentioned officers had arrested 13 individuals in Tel Aviv for “causing public disorder and disturbances”, alleging that police had been focused by pepper spray and hurled objects.
The spokesman shared a video with media displaying confrontations between police, some on horseback, and demonstrators. In the footage, a police officer holds up what seems to be an acoustic crowd management machine, blasting out a loud siren, earlier than a protester swats it to the bottom.
In Jerusalem, the place protesters had blocked roads and crashed by legislation enforcement boundaries, 15 individuals had been arrested, police mentioned.
Netanyahu sought to discredit the motion, tweeting a photo on Sunday of a Palestinian flag that was raised on Saturday on the Jerusalem rally.
He accused the “leftwing demonstration” of being spearheaded by his political foe and former prime minister, Ehud Barak, a person Netanyahu reminded his followers had enterprise ties with the deceased convicted intercourse offender Jeffrey Epstein.
“Disgrace,” Netanyahu tweeted. Barak has denied wrongdoing and mentioned final yr he had he minimize all enterprise ties with Epstein.