Benjamin Netanyahu’s bribery trial will begin two weeks after the Israeli elections

The trial will begin one day after the country’s newly elected parliament has been sworn in and in the midst of coalition negotiations, as Israel seeks to break a one-year political deadlock.

Netanyahu is accused of corruption and three of fraud and breach of trust three separate investigations on corruption. The prime minister must be present at the Jerusalem district court on the first day of the trial, which will be chaired by three judges.
The 70-year-old Israeli leader denied any wrongdoing, calling the cases a “coup attempt” and a media-powered witch hunt. Under Israeli law, Netanyahu is not required to step down unless convicted and the conviction is confirmed during the appeal process.
Election polls have repeatedly shown that neither Netanyahu nor his rival Benny Gantz, the former chief of staff of the Israeli army leading the Blue and White party, have a clear path to forming a 61-seat coalition. last election in September when both Netanyahu and Gantz have failed to form a government.

A similar result in the March 2 elections could push Israel towards a fourth election later this year – the fourth since April 2019 – which could also prove undecided, leaving Israel in the same political limbo it has been in since Christmas Eve 2018.

Netanyahu is the prime minister sitting in Israeli history to be accused, but corruption cases have done little to erode his electoral base. he he won a leadership contest within his Likud party by a landslide, securing his position at the helm of the party he led for more than a decade. In addition, it has already gained support from religious and right-wing parties.

But even that support left him running out of government in two consecutive elections, as he tries to convince voters to focus on his achievements from his 14 years in office and ignore the impending trial.

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“While [Likud voters] they might not cross the line and vote for another party, very well they could stay at home and not vote at all, “the president of the Israeli Institute for Democracy, Yohanan Plesner, told CNN.

In coalition negotiations following the last election, Netanyahu was unable to obtain any support from the centrist or leftist parties, who refused to support a prime minister before the accusation. The announcement of the trial date, particularly so soon after the elections, will strengthen this position.

“We saw how difficult it was after the September elections for anyone outside Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc to agree to join his government. The fact that Netanyahu’s trial will actually begin during coalition negotiations will certainly strengthen this opposition,” said Plesner.

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