Prosecution in Israel lines up over 300 witnesses in Netanyahu case




* Israel's attorney general formally files indictment

* Opens way for Netanyahu to seek parliamentary immunity

* Netanyahu denies wrongdoing in three corruption cases

By Jeffrey Heller

JERUSALEM, Dec 2 (Reuters) - An indictment submitted to Israel's parliament on Monday against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu names more than 300 prosecution witnesses, including wealthy friends and former aides, in three graft cases against him.

By formally sending the indictment to the legislature, after announcing charges of bribery, breach of trust and fraud on Nov. 21, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit set the clock ticking on a 30-day period in which Netanyahu can seek parliamentary immunity from prosecution.

Such protection seems unlikely, with Israeli politics in disarray after inconclusive elections in April and September and the failure of Netanyahu and his main challenger, Benny Gantz, to secure a ruling majority in the legislature.

Netanyahu, in office for the past decade, has denied any wrongdoing, saying he is a victim of an attempted "coup" waged by legal authorities trying to unseat a popular right-wing leader.

As prime minister, he is under no legal obligation to resign after being charged. No date has been set for the opening of the trial, with three judges presiding in Jerusalem District Court.

The indictment submitted to parliament listed 333 witnesses for the prosecution. Legal experts said the long roster meant proceedings could go on for years.

They include U.S. casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, Australian billionaire James Packer and retired Israeli security chiefs, and several former aides who will be state witnesses against him.

Netanyahu poured scorn on the length of the witness list.

"When an accusation is true, you don't need 333 witnesses," he wrote on Twitter. "When the accusation is untrue, not even 333 witnesses will help."


TALKS DEADLOCKED

In one case, Netanyahu is suspected of wrongfully requesting and accepting expensive gifts, including champagne and cigars, from Milchan and Packer. Neither has been charged with any wrongdoing.

Another case focuses on allegations that Netanyahu promised the owner of Israel's best-selling newspaper to push for regulations on its main competitor, owned by Adelson.

Netanyahu also is accused of granting regulatory favours worth about 1.8 billion shekels ($500 million) to Bezeq Telecom Israel in return for positive coverage on a website owned by its former chairman.

Talks between Netanyahu's Likud and Gantz's centrist Blue and White party on a "national unity" government are deadlocked.

If no agreement is reached within 10 days - the end of a three-week period in which legislators can nominate a candidate to try to form a government - Israel is likely to hold a new election.



(Editing by Timothy Heritage)

COMMENTS

More Related News

Trump stirs controversy with new Judaism definition
Trump stirs controversy with new Judaism definition

US President Donald Trump celebrated the Jewish festival of Hanukkah on Wednesday with a controversial change to the definition of Judaism -- a move that will allow clamping down on boycotts of Israel. "I will always stand with our treasured friend and ally the state of Israel," Trump told

Trump to Sign Order Targeting Anti-Semitism on College Campuses
Trump to Sign Order Targeting Anti-Semitism on College Campuses

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order Wednesday targeting what he sees as anti-Semitism on college campuses by threatening to withhold federal money from educational institutions that fail to combat discrimination, three administration officials said Tuesday.The order

Many American Jews are worried Trump
Many American Jews are worried Trump's decision to define Judaism as a nationality and not just a religion will do far more harm than good

President Donald Trump reportedly plans to sign an executive order which will classify Judaism as a race or nationality instead of just a religion.

Vandals damage cars in Arab neighborhood of east Jerusalem
Vandals damage cars in Arab neighborhood of east Jerusalem
  • World
  • 2019-12-09 14:46:22Z

Vandals slashed the tires of over 160 vehicles and sprayed slogans such as "Arabs=enemies" in a Palestinian neighborhood of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, Israeli police said Monday. Elsewhere, Palestinian residents of the volatile West Bank city of Hebron staged a general strike to protest the construction of a new Jewish settlement there. Masked suspects operated under the cover of darkness to vandalize the cars in east Jerusalem's Shuafat neighborhood and spray-painted Hebrew graffiti on a nearby wall, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

Trump accused of anti-Semitism after saying Jewish Americans will vote for him so they can avoid a wealth tax
Trump accused of anti-Semitism after saying Jewish Americans will vote for him so they can avoid a wealth tax

"You're brutal killers," President Donald Trump told those in real estate. "Not nice people at all, but you have to vote for me you have no choice."

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Latin America