Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received good news on Monday: The testimony phase of his trial will not begin until after the Israeli elections on March 23.
Because it is important: Netanyahu faces charges of bribery, breach of trust and fraud in connection with a series of corruption scandals. If the testimony of witnesses and the presentation of evidence began before the election, it could have dominated the news cycle and damaged their hopes of obtaining a majority.
- Instead, they will begin April 5 with three hearings a week, the judges overseeing the trial announced Monday.
- The bad news for Netanyahu is that the hearings will align with the post-election process of trying to form a government.
- Between lines: A new right-wing majority would likely pass laws attempting to end Netanyahu’s trial.
Retrospective scene: 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 or four months. They cited procedural reasons and did not mention the elections.
- But several hours after Netanyahu left the courtroom, he denounced the charges against him, pleading for a postponement until after the election, saying that starting the hearing before March 23 “would seem like flagrant interference in the election.”
Driving the news: The judges rejected Netanyahu’s demands that two of the charges against him be dropped on procedural grounds and that some evidence be excluded because it was allegedly collected illegally. They did criticize the attorney general for the process by which the investigation into Netanyahu was authorized.