Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received some good news on Monday: The testimony phase of his trial will not begin until after the March 23 elections in Israel.
Why it matters: Netanyahu has been charged with bribery, breach of trust and fraud in connection with a series of corruption scandals. If testimony and the presentation of evidence began before the election, it could dominate the news cycle and hurt his hopes of winning a majority.
- Instead, they will begin on April 5th with three hearings a week, the judges monitoring the trial announced on Monday.
- The bad news for Netanyahu is that the hearings will be brought into line with the post-election process of trying to form a government.
- Between the lines: A new right-wing majority is likely to pass laws trying to end the trial against Netanyahu.
Flashback: At the hearing two weeks ago, in which Netanyahu pleaded not guilty, his lawyers asked for the testimony phase to be postponed for another three to four months. They cited procedural reasons and did not mention the election.
- But hours after Netanyahu left the courtroom, he dismissed the charges against him and called for a postponement until the election, saying the start of the hearing before March 23 “would look like gross interference in the election.”
News drive: Judges rejected Netanyahu’s demands that two of the charges against him be dropped on procedural grounds and that some evidence be banned because it was allegedly collected illegally. They did criticize the chief prosecutor for the process that allowed Netanyahu’s investigation.