Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial resumed on Monday, with his lawyers giving their formal response to his indictment.
Why it matters: Netanyahu’s trial resumes 43 days before Israel is due to hold its fourth election in two years.
Driving the news: Netanyahu hopes to use his trial as a means for mobilizing his base ahead of the elections.
- He and his lawyers entered the courtroom several minutes before the hearing started. Netanyahu stood with his back to the cameras, making every effort not to be photographed inside the courtroom.
- On Sunday Netanyahu released a Trump-like video in which he spoke about a “witch-hunt” and “rigged cases”.
- In the video, he called on his supporters not to demonstrate in front of the court because of COVID-19 restrictions but said he “appreciates” them.
Between the lines: Netanyahu, his lawyers and political allies had taken every step possible to delay the resumption of the trial, and they were quite successful.
Of note: Yariv Levin, Speaker of the Knesset legislature, issued an unusual statement on Sunday calling on the judges to postpone the hearing of witnesses and evidence until after the March 23 election.
- Levin claimed that if the trial is not postponed it will be perceived as a political intervention by the judges against Netanyahu.
What’s next: The main decision the judges need to take on Monday is the schedule for the hearing of evidence and witnesses.
- The judges have said in the past they want to have three hearings a week and that Netanyahu would have to attend most of them.
- If this stage starts in the next few weeks and is not postponed until after the election, it is sure to dominate the agenda of the campaign.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated with details of Netanyahu’s court appearance.