JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial will resume in February after being postponed because of a tightened coronavirus lockdown, an Israeli court said Monday.
The Jerusalem District Court decided the trial will resume Feb. 8, with Netanyahu expected to appear in court for the hearing. It was initially slated to resume this week.
Netanyahu has been indicted on charges of accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust connected to three long-running investigations. He has denied wrongdoing and says he is the victim of a “witch hunt” by hostile media, law enforcement and judicial officials.
Israel is in its third national lockdown, which was tightened last week, prompting the court to delay the trial’s resumption.
Israel has seen a recent surge in virus cases despite unleashing one of the world’s fastest vaccination campaigns. The country has given the first of two vaccine doses to some 20% of its population, and Netanyahu has said that Israel has secured enough vaccines to inoculate the whole adult population by the end of March.
Netanyahu’s trial will restart weeks before Israel heads to the polls on March 23 in its fourth national elections in two years. That is likely to keep his legal woes firmly in the public discourse during the election campaign, even though Netanyahu has placed Israel’s speedy coronavirus vaccination drive at the center of his battle for reelection.
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