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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) talks to his lawyers ahead of a hearing in his corruption trial at the Jerusalem District Court on Monday. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pleaded not guilty in a Jerusalem courtroom to bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges on Monday.

Why it matters: Netanyahu's trial resumes 43 days before Israel is due to hold its fourth election in two years. 

Details: Netanyahu stood with his back to the cameras, making every effort not to be photographed inside the courtroom after he and his lawyers entered several minutes before the hearing started.

  • Netanyahu exited the courtroom after 30 minutes, leaving his lawyer to represent him for the rest of the hearing.

For the record: Netanyahu hopes to use his trial as a means for mobilizing his base ahead of the elections. 

  • On Sunday, Netanyahu released a Trump-like video in which he spoke about a "witch hunt" and "rigged cases." 
  • In the video, he called on his supporters not to demonstrate in front of the court because of COVID-19 restrictions but said he "appreciates" them.

Between the lines: Netanyahu, his lawyers and political allies had taken every step possible to delay the resumption of the trial, and they were quite successful.

Of note: Yariv Levin, speaker of the Knesset legislature, issued an unusual statement on Sunday calling on the judges to postpone the hearing of witnesses and evidence until after the March 23 election.

  • Levin claimed that if the trial is not postponed, it will be perceived as a political intervention by the judges against Netanyahu.

What's next: The main decision the judges need to take on Monday is the schedule for the hearing of evidence and witnesses.

  • The judges have said in the past they want to have three hearings a week and that Netanyahu would have to attend most of them.
  • If this stage starts in the next few weeks and is not postponed until after the election, it is sure to dominate the agenda of the campaign. 

Editor's note: This article has been updated with details of Netanyahu's court appearance.

Go deeper

Feb 7, 2021 - World

Scoop: Israel will ask allies to pressure ICC prosecutor against opening war crimes investigation

Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

Israel intends to ask dozens of allies to convey a "discreet message" to Fatou Bensouda, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), tomorrow and urge her to not move forward with an investigation against Israel on alleged war crimes in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, two Israeli officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: Israel is very concerned any investigation could lead to international arrest warrants against Israel officials and military officers. The Israelis are also concerned such an investigation will boost BDS campaigns against Israel.

Dave Lawler, author of World
36 mins ago - World

Americans increasingly see China as an enemy

One in three Americans, and a majority of Republicans, now view China as an enemy of the United States, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center.

By the numbers: Just 9% of Americans consider China a "partner," while 55% see Beijing as a "competitor" and 34% as an "enemy."

Scoop: Leaked HHS docs spotlight Biden's child migrant dilemma

A group of undocumented immigrants walk toward a Customs and Border Patrol station after being apprehended. Photo: Sergio Flores/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Fresh internal documents from the Department of Health and Human Services show how quickly the number of child migrants crossing the border is overwhelming the administration's stretched resources.

Driving the news: In the week ending March 1, the Border Patrol referred to HHS custody an average of 321 children per day, according to documents obtained by Axios. That's up from a weekly average of 203 in late January and early February — and just 47 per day during the first week of January.