Netanyahu’s Defense Team Prepares to Fight ‘Every Step of the Way’ as Corruption Trial Opens

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust will begin on Sunday at the Jerusalem District Court. This is the first time in the country’s history that a sitting prime minister will be facing a criminal trial.

– Bibi swears in his colossal coalition and readies for a courtroom showdown

Bibi swears in his colossal coalition and readies for a courtroom showdown Haaretz

Netanyahu’s case will be tried by a panel of judges headed by Rivka Friedman-Feldman, who will be joined by Oded Shaham and Moshe Bar-Am. On Sunday, the indictments will be read for the three separate cases the prime minister has been charged in.

Netanyahu’s two-lawyer defense team has not yet finished reviewing the material from the investigation against him on the corruption charges. They received an additional disc with material just last week. The defense team underwent changes recently after Yossi Ashkenazi resigned over a monetary dispute, which for a time left Amit Hadad as the only lawyer representing the prime minister. In recent weeks, Ashkenazi was replaced by Micha Fettman, who has experience in white-collar criminal defense cases.

But the defense team still lacks someone with expertise in corporate and securities law, which Ashkenazi had. The expertise is necessary for the Bezeq-Walla case, which involves allegations that the prime minister arranged regulatory concessions for the Bezeq telecommunications firm in exchange for favorable coverage on Bezeq’s Walla news website.

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Netanyahu is therefore expected to hire a third lawyer, as long as the permits committee at the State Comptroller’s Office allows him to receive funding from his cousin Nathan Milikowsky and Michigan businessman Spencer Partrich. On Thursday, the permits committee held a hearing on the request, Netanyahu’s fourth one for permission to receive funds to finance his legal defense. The committee has asked for Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit’s position on the issue.

Until now, Netanyahu’s lawyers had taken a restrained approach for strategic, political and legal reasons. Over the past week, however, Netanyahu’s defense team took a more aggressive line when the prosecution insisted that the prime minister be required to attend Sunday’s opening session, when the indictment will be read. The prime minister’s lawyers had asked that he be excused, citing the expense involved in providing him security and the limited space in the courtroom with the Health Ministry’s coronavirus recommendations.

– Haaretz talks Bibi’s 5th term, annexation, Iran and China