By David Israel, Jewish Press—
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will stand in a Jerusalem District Courtroom on Monday to respond verbally to the charges against him. The hearing in the three cases will begin with an oral statement by each of the defendants: Netanyahu, Arnon (Noni) Mozes, and Shaul and Iris Elowitz, in response to the charges against them. These follow the written answers submitted by their lawyers to the court on January 18.
The hearing will consist of two parts: the first, the formal part, will include the defendants’ oral responses, which is why Netanyahu, Mozes, and the Elowitzes must appear in court in person. It’s likely to be a short process.
The second part of Monday’s hearing will deal with the defense attorneys’ motions, which the defendants are not required to attend. The motions are likely to include a challenge to the Attorney General’s approvals to opening the investigations in the first place, and requests to dismiss some or all of the charges.
Netanyahu attended the hearing as per the court order. He pled not guilty and left. His lawyers stayed for the rest of the hearing.
Due to the Corona constraints, the hearing will be held in the new district courtroom, which includes several halls that were combined to increase occupancy. Nevertheless, the number of representatives for each defendant in the courtroom itself is limited, with journalists sitting in a separate room and following the proceedings on a closed-circuit TV.
Netanyahu asked his supporters to not show up at court due to the Corona restrictions. There were anti-Netanyahu protesters outside the court.
Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin (Likud) wrote in an Israel Hayom op-ed on Sunday that if the panel of judges—Rivka Friedman-Feldman, Moshe Bar-Am, and Oded Shaham—do not postpone the evidentiary phase of the trial until after Election Day, March 23, the judges will be guilty of a “blatant interference in the election” and of “conducting a drumhead court-martial” for the prime minister.
According to Levin, with less than 45 days left until the election, it is inconceivable to allow a situation in which only the prosecution’s evidence will be heard by the time Israelis vote on Netanyahu’s political fate. On the other hand, it must be noted that Israel has been in an ongoing election campaign for about two years, and it is still unclear whether the fourth election in March will prevent a fifth election a few months down further the road. How long should the case be reasonably delayed, then? Continue Reading….