Benjamin Netanyahu Returns To Public Spotlight Once Again

( For more than six months, Benjamin Netanyahu went to court on Tuesday. The former prime minister of Israel faced down against a former confidant of his that is going to testify against him in a corruption trial that is very high profile.

One of Netanyahu’s former aides, Nir Hefetz, is now serving as a star witness for the prosecution. He spent several years serving very closely to the former prime minister.

In 2009, Hefetz departed his former career as a journalist to work in the government for Netanyahu as a spokesman. In 2014, he became an adviser and spokesman for Netanyahu and his family.

On Tuesday, the former prime minister went into the courtroom with his younger son Avner, as well as some supporters from the Likud party, of which he is a part.

Upon the trial opening Tuesday, Netanyahu’s lawyers asked that the session be delayed after reports surfaced that yet another witness stepped forward recently, presenting new evidence that alleges the former prime minister’s wife Sara accepted a bracelet as a gift from two of her billionaire friends — James Packer, an Australian billionaire, and Arnon Milchan, a producer in Hollywood.

Netanyahu’s lawyers in court argued that both their client and his wife were obviously caught off-guard by these new allegations. They also have a right to look over the evidence, they argued, before Hefetz is able to testify against him.

The former prime minister is currently being accused of breach of trust, fraud, and accepting bribes. There are three separate cases against him.

The first case alleges Netanyahu received gifts valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars from many of his wealthy friends. The second case accuses him of creating positive coverage in one of Israel’s major newspapers in exchange for the prime minister pushing legislation that would harm that paper’s top rival.

The third case accuses Netanyahu of passing legislation that benefited the owner of Bezeq, a telecom giant in Israel, in exchange for giving the prime minister positive coverage on their news site, Walla.

Hefetz was arrested in 2018 in connection with his involvement in that third case, which has been nicknamed Case 4000. After that happened, he signed a deal to be a state’s witness, providing investigations with recordings he made of conversations with the former prime minister and his family.

Hefetz had such a close relationship with Netanyahu, though, that experts believe his testimony will be relevant in all three cases against the former prime minister.

To this point, Netanyahu has denied doing anything wrong in any of the cases. While he was serving in office, he long rejected all calls for him to step down, even though he was under indictment. He often lashed out at the media, the court system and law enforcement agencies in Israel.

He didn’t win his last re-election bid, though, the first time in four straight elections. In 2020, the criminal trials against him began, just as the coronavirus pandemic started.