Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial resumed on Sunday despite COVID crisis in the Middle-eastern country. The long-serving leader faces mounting discontent over his handling of the coronavirus crisis, AP reports.
Mr Netanyahu asked to be absent from the hearing and his request was granted since this is a discussion that is mainly technical and is supposed to deal with setting the dates for the hearings.
Israel’s PM is charged with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in a series of scandals in which he is alleged to have received lavish gifts from billionaire friends and exchanged regulatory favours with media tycoons for milder coverage of himself and his family.
The first minister is denying wrongdoings, describing the accusations as a witch-hunt pursued by a biased law enforcement system.
The trial opened in May, but Mr Netanyahu was not expected to appear at Sunday’s hearing, which is taking place at a Jerusalem court. The trial resumes as PM faces widespread anger over his government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis.
While Israel appeared to have tamped down the first wave of infections, what’s emerged as a hasty and erratic reopening sent infections soaring. PM’s Cabinet appeared to neglect the numbers and moved forward with other policy priorities and its reopening plans.
In addition, Netanyahu’s government has been criticized for a baffling, halting response to the new wave, which has seen daily cases rise to nearly 2,000. It has been slammed for its handling of the economic fallout of the crisis.
despite his trial thus comes at inopportune timing, Israeli PM had hoped to ride on the goodwill he gained from overcoming the first wave of infections going into his corruption trial, but the increasingly souring mood has affected his approval rating and may deny him the public backing he had hoped for.