Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's Trial Postponed as He Ups Domestic Coronavirus Restrictions
On Sunday, the judges assigned to Netanyahu’s case decided to postpone his trial, scheduled to start Tuesday, to May 24, due to the new Covid-19 emergency regulations announced by Netanyahu and Justice Minister Amir Ohana the night before
As the number of coronavirus (Covid-19) cases in Israel rises to 200 and public anxiety grows, the judges assigned to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s case ruled Sunday that his trial, set to start Tuesday, will be postponed to May 24.Another document prepared by the court on Saturday expressed concerns that the presence of reporters covering the trial would also constitute a gathering of more than 10 people, even if the trial will be held without an audience and broadcasted live.
Likud leader Netanyahu currently heads an interim government, having to date failed to establish a new government following the country’s third election in less than a year, held earlier this month. He is facing trial on several counts of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust, with some members of the opposing political bloc conditioning a Likud coalition on his resignation as leader.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Photo: Yoav Dudkevitz
The judges’ announcement came just hours after Israel’s Justice Minister Amir Ohana issued a decree announcing a 24-hour state of emergency in the country’s judicial system. According to Ohana’s decree, Israel’s judicial system will only address urgent petitions to the Supreme Court, arrests, urgent civil remedies, and violations of the country’s coronavirus regulations. As of Sunday, Israel has banned any gathering of more than 10 people, effectively shutting down almost all businesses and shops, except supermarkets and pharmacies, and also most of the country’s education system.
Though Ohana’s decree is currently only valid for one day, it is likely to be extended. Netanyahu’s trial also cannot proceed under the new regulations set by him, as his defense team alone includes over 10 people.
The Israeli government is expected to discuss a line of possible emergency procedures for the judicial system on Sunday, including using phone or video chats as an alternative for court appearances and holding hearings for people in quarantine in their absence.