טובה צימוקי סיכום שנה
Tova Zimuki
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives at the Jerusalem District Court for his criminal trial on corruption charges

Netanyahu plays a double-header in court

Opinion: At his court hearing, Netanyahu's defense team tried to use any legitimate legal loophole to make his case, but these loopholes are a part of the same judicial system he is constantly attacking

Tova Tzimuki |
Published: 02.08.21 , 22:53
Monday's image of the day has to be that of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu facing the judges presiding over his corruption trial.
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  • The snap of Netanyahu standing in the docket will be used by both his detractors, who will want to show him as a corrupt politician, and his supporters who will wish to portray him as a victim of a vindictive cabal.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    בנימין נתניהו
    בנימין נתניהו
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives at the Jerusalem District Court for his criminal trial on corruption charges
    (Photo: Reuven Cassuto)
    Netanyahu appeared in court on Monday to answer for charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. He was not guilty, he told the judges.
    The fact that today's session was held at all despite attempts by the prime minister and his lawyers to postpone it, indicates Israel's judicial system is still working.
    The court hearing dealt with complaints made by Netanyahu's defense team over procedural matters pertaining to the legality of some of the investigations conducted, which will keep the judges' panel busy throughout the trial.
    The prosecution appears negligent and even arrogant in matters of procedure, skipping the need for written permission to investigate certain matters, while defense teams closely watch the crossing of every T and dotting of every I.
    Thus far, there seems to be no evidence presented that would cause the case against Netanyahu to fall apart, but these matters may not easily be put aside.
    Such behavior on the part of the prosecution makes one wonder what chance does a regular Joe, who cannot afford the high price lawyers defending Netanyahu, have when standing trial.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    ליאת בן ארי
    ליאת בן ארי
    Liat Ben-Ari, chief prosecutor in Prime Minister Netanyahu's corruption trial, arrives in court
    (Photo: Shalom Shalev)
    The argument over when testimonies should be heard intensified because of the March elections.
    The judges hinted they were aware of the implications of keeping Netanyahu away from his duty while the country was grappling with the health crisis and allowed the prime minister to leave the proceedings and.
    They may rule to postpone hearings after they will have decided on the procedural matters before them. A call to begin hearing testimonies in the days leading up to the elections will be problematic in terms of public perception.
    On the one hand, voters who have been aware of the charges against the prime minister for the past three election cycles are able to decide to support him or vote against him, accordingly.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    ההפגנה מחוץ לבית המשפט
    ההפגנה מחוץ לבית המשפט
    Anti-Netanyahu protesters outside the Jerusalem District Court during a hearing in the prime minister's trial on charges of corruption
    (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
    But on the other hand, hearing witnesses on the stand as they testify to Netanyahu's alleged crimes day after day, may be a step too far and the panel of judges is keenly aware of that danger.
    This is not a run of the mill criminal trial. Netanyahu is a sophisticated defendant who knows every political and legal trick in the book.
    He often challenges the legitimacy of the legal system. He destroys public trust in the judges and their rulings and announces he will form a coalition that will pass a law that can bypass the courts and grant him the immunity he seeks.
    His political ally, United Torah Judaism leader Moshe Gafni, already announced that his party would join a future coalition only if all sides commit to passing such laws.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    משה גפני
    משה גפני
    United Torah Judaism leader Moshe Gafni
    (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
    The prime minister himself will demand such a commitment from future partners should he be the one to form the next government and will likely find other political parties amenable to such a move.
    After Monday's hearing, it is clear that the battle between those aspiring to a country of laws that views all citizens as equals and those who would actively work for a restricted judicial system and would provide Netanyahu an escape from justice is ongoing.
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