Israel PM Netanyahu faces third day of corruption case hearing amid political deadlock

Israel PM Netanyahu faces third day of corruption case hearing amid political deadlock
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced a third day of a pre-indictment hearing on Sunday amid a sustained political deadlock.
2 min read
06 October, 2019
Netanyahu faces charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery in three separate cases [Getty]
The third day of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's high-profile pre-indictment hearing on corruption charges began on Sunday.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has recommended Netanyahu be indicted on fraud, breach of trust and bribery charges in three separate cases.

"Today we will complete the discussion on case 4,000 and will then discuss other cases," Netanyahu's attorney, Amit Hadad, said at the Ministry of Justice on Sunday.

A confident Hadad went on to claim the only option following the conclusion of the plea would be to close the case. "We believe this will happen and we expect it to happen," he added, despite mounting charges against the PM.

Under Israeli law, Netanyahu is entitled to plead his case at a hearing in a last-ditch attempt to persuade prosecutors to drop their case.

The first two days focused on the most damaging case against Netanyahu: Suspicions that he promoted regulation worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Israel's Bezeq telecom company in return for favourable coverage in Bezeq's subsidiary news site, Walla.

Other cases included suspicions he accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars of champagne and cigars from billionaire friends and offered a critical publisher legislation that would weaken his paper's main rival in return for softer treatment.

Netanyahu has long promised he'd clear his name in the hearing and his lawyers say they will prove that no quid pro quo was involved.

If formal charges are filed, Netanyahu, who denies any wrongdoing, could come under heavy pressure to step down.

The hearing began amid a sustained political deadlock resulting from a 17 September general election.

For Netanyahu to survive politically and continue his reign as Israel's longest-serving prime minister, he will have to navigate the twin challenges of a potential corruption indictment against him in the weeks ahead and election results that give neither him nor his challenger Benny Gantz a clear path to a majority coalition.