Israel's Netanyahu asks for delay in corruption trial

Israel's Netanyahu asks for delay in corruption trial
The Israeli prime minister faces charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
3 min read
09 March, 2020
The prime minister's trial is due to begin on March 17 [AFP]
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has appealed for a Jerusalem court to delay his upcoming trial due to begin on 17 March.

Netanyahu, who faces charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, submitted the request through his attorney Amit Hadad, Ynet reported.

Hadad cited technical reasons for the request to delay the beginning of proceedings by 45 days, saying that evidence requested by Netanyahu's defence team months prior has still not been delivered.

Netanyahu is accused of accepting lavish gifts from wealthy businessmen, as well as granting favours to secure favourable news coverage. 

The Israeli premier has described his indictment as a judicial coup attempt, claiming the investigation is "tainted and politically motivated".

"The public has lost faith in the judiciary," Netanyahu said last week, indicating he intends to prove his innocence in court rather than seek a plea bargain.

Israel remains in political turmoil

Israel remains in political limbo after holding its third elections in the space of 12 months a week ago.

Netanyahu's main electoral rival, Benny Gantz, slammed the premier on Twitter, accusing him of attempting to evade justice.

Gantz's Blue and White Party is currently trying to seek support for a bill that would prevent an indicted politician from leading a government.

If successful, the bill would only take effect after another election - a prospect threatened as Israeli lawmakers are still scrambling to form a coalition government after any one party failed to gain a majority last Monday.

Parties opposing Netanyahu's Likud earned 62 out of 120 Knesset seats - enough to form a government - but differences between the factions are vast.

The support of the Palestinian-majority Joint List alliance is dependent on promises to annul discriminatory laws, Mtanes Shihadeh, head of the alliance's Balad Party, said on Sunday.

"The Joint List won't repeat the mistake of three months ago to recommend Benny Gantz without any commitment, without any agreement, without anything written," Shihadeh said according to The Times of Israel.

"We saw what happened last time: The Joint List made its recommendation and Gantz basically broke right, adopting all the Likud party's positions."

The Joint List has requested the revocation of the controversial Nation State Law - a 2018 law that Palestinian-Israeli lawmakers decried as "apartheid" and an expression of "Jewish supremacy" - and the Kaminitiz Law, a 2017 act which strengthened powers to crack down on buildings without permits. 

Critics say the Kaminitiz Law disproportinately affects Palestinian citizens of Israel, who are routinely denied permits for construction.

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