Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to face the resumption of his long-running trial on numerous corruption charges, after a pause due to the war in Gaza.
A court in Jerusalem is set to start hearing the case, which is focused on several corruption charges against Netanyahu, on Monday, according to reports in the Israeli media. The trial was paused on an emergency order from the country’s justice minister following Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7.
Netanyahu has been charged with fraud, bribery and breach of trust in three cases filed in 2019, known as Case 1000, 2000 and 4000.
In Case 1000, the prime minister, along with his wife Sara, is accused of receiving gifts, including champagne and cigars, from prominent Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian billionaire businessman James Packer in return for political favours.
Bribery charges carry a sentence of up to 10 years in jail and/or a fine. Fraud and breach of trust carry a prison sentence of up to three years.
Israel’s longest-serving prime minister has denied any wrongdoing. He claims to be the victim of a politically orchestrated “witch-hunt” by rivals and the media to remove him from office.
The trial got under way in May 2020 and has been repeatedly delayed over defence and prosecution disputes and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu has been accused of using the legislation to try to circumvent his legal problems.
Amid the prime minister’s controversial plans to overhaul the judicial system, Israel had been mired in months of protests ahead of the October 7 attacks.
Critics have said the proposed changes would politicise the judiciary and compromise its independence, foster corruption and harm Israel’s economy.
Netanyahu has defended the push and dismissed the protests, stating that he aims to restore a proper balance between the three branches of government.