Netanyahu appears for the fourth time in court on corruption charges

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On Monday, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared for the fourth time before the judges of the District Court in occupied East Jerusalem on corruption charges.

Netanyahu arrived at the court on Salah al-Din Street, amid heavy security.

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His former aide, Nir Hefetz, began to testify before the Israeli court against him.

This is the first time that Netanyahu has met face to face with his former aide in the judiciary after the court last week postponed Hefetz’s testimony in response to the request of the defense staff.

At the end of 2018, Hefetz became a “state witness against Netanyahu in the case known in the media as Case 4000.

The file relates to the fact that businessman Shaul Elovitch, owner of the largest percentage of the shares of the “Bezeq” telecommunications company, issued orders to the Walla news website, which he owns.

This is by giving positive coverage to Netanyahu and his family in exchange for Netanyahu offering privileges to Elovitch.

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In the past months, former Walla news editors provided testimonies about Netanyahu and his family’s interference in the site’s coverage of news related to him, his family, and those opposed to them.

Hefetz told the court on Monday that former Prime Minister Netanyahu demanded “updates” on the quality and format of media coverage of him “even during meetings on national security.”

Hefetz began his testimony by talking about the details of his work and how he dealt with issues related to both Netanyahu’s Likud party and the private affairs of the former prime minister.

He said, “Netanyahu’s preoccupation with issues related to the media was parallel to his preoccupation with security issues.”

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Hefetz was quoted by Israeli media, including the website of the newspaper, Haaretz, as saying that with regard to media coverage, “Netanyahu’s obsession was limitless,” adding that his control “was absolute and complete, without exception.”

He added, “Former Communications Minister Gilad Erdan was expelled from the ministry after consulting the former prime minister with his wife Sarah and son Yair.”

“There was a clear family decision that only Netanyahu will be the communications minister,” he said.

Erdan served as Minister of Communications between March 2013 and November 2014 before Netanyahu assumed the communications portfolio in addition to his premiership.

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The Ministry of Communications in Israel is the supervisor of the official media, and it issues work permits for the private media.

The first session for Netanyahu’s trial was held at the end of May 2020, a second in July of the same year, and then a third in April 2021.

And a fourth session last June, and a fifth last September, before the sixth session started on Monday, after it was postponed last week.

The Israeli police began investigating Netanyahu in December 2016 on suspicion of involvement in corruption cases.

At the time, the police recommended indicting Netanyahu, which was considered a precedent in Israel, as no prime minister had ever been investigated during his tenure.

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On November 21, 2019, Netanyahu was formally charged in three corruption cases.

Netanyahu’s cases center around his involvement in cases of bribery, breach of public trust, and abuse of power for personal matters.

The Israeli District Court in East Jerusalem is considering the indictment against Netanyahu.

Which could lead him to prison if he is convicted and the Israeli Supreme Court confirms this conviction.