Romania's most powerful politician has missed a hearing on corruption charges—by going on a surprise visit to Israel.
Liviu Dragnea, chairman of the ruling Social Democratic Party, is charged with official misconduct. He was expected to attend court Wednesday, but Parliament confirmed just as the hearing began that he was in Israel at the invitation of Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu.
Dragnea is accused of intervening to keep two women on the payroll of a family welfare agency, even though they were employed by the party. He denies wrongdoing.
Dragnea, who effectively controls the government, can't be prime minister due to a 2016 conviction for vote-rigging.
The court scheduled another hearing for May 15.
Premier Viorica Dancila also began a two-day visit to Israel Wednesday.
Netanyahu, who met with her Wednesday, thanked his Romanian counterpart for her government's stand on possibly moving Romania's embassy to Jerusalem.
"I welcome Romanian government's approval of a draft decision on initiating the transfer of the Romanian Embassy to Jerusalem," he told her.
Earlier this month, Dragnea said Bucharest is ready to follow the US and move its embassy to Jerusalem.
But Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, who is in charge of foreign policy, later downplayed the announcement.
Palestinians claim eastern Jerusalem, territory captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War from Jordan, as their future capital.