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Israel's Judicial Reforms 2023 - Netanyahu's Trial

How has Binyamin Netanyahu's trial impacted the government's direction?

In December 2016 Israeli Police began investigations into allegations of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust by Binyamin Netanyahu and close political allies within his inner circle during his fourth and fifth terms as Israel's Prime Minister. On 21st November, 2019, Netanyahu was officially indicted for breach of trust, accepting bribes, and fraud, leading him to legally relinquish his ministry portfolios other than prime minister. Netanyahu's trial began on 24th May 2020. The prosecution listed 333 witnesses. As of June 2023, the criminal trial is still ongoing.

There are three cases against Netanyahu.

Case 1000: Netanyahu has been accused of a conflict of interest as then communications minister for receiving over $200,000 worth of gifts (cigars, champagne, jewelry) from Arnon Milchan and his associates. Netanyahu allegedly assisted in their governmental affairs while receiving such gifts.

Case 2000: Netanyahu is accused alongside chairman of the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, Arnon Mozes, to limit circulation of Yisrael Hayom (a rival centre-right paper) by ensuring that Yedioth Ahronoth hired favourable journalists to Netanyahu.

Case 4000: Netanyahu is accused of offering favourable regulation changes for Bezeq - one of the largest Israeli communications companies - in return for its news site, Walla!, publishing more positive coverage about Netanyahu.


How is this related to judicial reform and the protests?

Opponents of Netanyahu allege that he has brought forward these reforms to the judiciary in order to preserve his political position. Since his indictment there have been calls to change the law to prevent any individual who is accused of crimes or on trial to be barred from holding the office of Prime Minister. When the 'Government of Change' held power in 2021-22 under Naftali Bennet and Yair Lapid, there were introductions of laws to this effect, however, did not become law. Now Netanyahu has announced reforms to the judiciary, weakening their power, and strengthening those of his office. As a result, protests are claiming that these laws are not for the benefit of the State but for the preservation of Binyamin Netanyahu's premiership.