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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.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
22 mins ago - Podcasts

House antitrust chair discusses the bills to bust up Big Tech

House lawmakers last week introduced a series of five bipartisan bills designed to curb the power of Big Tech, targeting Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google in all but name.

Axios Re:Cap speaks with Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), chair of the House antitrust committee and a sponsor on most of the bills, to learn how he plans to get these measures over the finish line. The congressman from Rhode Island also faces a slate of other priorities and in the wake of a spending package to bolster the U.S. tech sector’s ability to compete with China.

Why online games have a shorter life span

"Grand Theft Auto Online" will join a growing list of obsolete games on older platforms this December when Rockstar Game shuts down the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game.

Why it matters: Video game preservation is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to video games, physical or otherwise.