Feb 22, 2021 - World

Netanyahu corruption hearings postponed until after Israel's election

Netanyahu ahead of his most recent court appearance. Photo: Reuven Castro/Pool/AFP via Getty

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu got some good news on Monday: The testimony phase of his trial won't begin until after Israel's March 23 elections.

Why it matters: Netanyahu faces charges of bribery, breach of trust and fraud in connection with a series of corruption scandals. If witness testimony and the presentation of evidence began before the election, it could have dominated the news cycle and damaged his hopes of winning a majority.

  • Instead, they'll begin on April 5 with three hearings per week, the judges overseeing the trial announced on Monday.
  • The bad news for Netanyahu is that the hearings will align with the post-election process of attempting to form a government.
  • Between the lines: A new right-wing majority would likely pass laws attempting to end Netanyahu's trial.

Flashback: In the court session two weeks ago in which Netanyahu pleaded not guilty, his lawyers asked that the testimony phase be postponed for another three to four months. They cited procedural reasons and didn’t mention the elections.

  • But several hours after Netanyahu left the courtroom, he denounced the charges against him and argued for a postponement until after the elections and said that starting the hearing before March 23 “would look like a flagrant interference in the elections."

Driving the news: The judges rejected Netanyahu’s demands that two of the charges against him be annulled on procedural grounds and that some pieces of evidence be barred because they were allegedly collected illegally. They did criticize the attorney general for the process by which the investigation into Netanyahu was authorized.

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