Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial resumed on Monday, despite the country’s continuing war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The trial was suspended two months ago due to the Palestinian militant group Hamas’s bloody October 7 attack on southern Israel in which 1,200 people were killed and 240 more kidnapped, according to Israeli officials.
Netanyahu, leader of Israel’s right-wing Likud party, is accused of fraud and breach of trust over his relationship with Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and other wealthy personalities.
According to prosecutors, between 2007 and 2016 Netanyahu allegedly received gifts valued at 700,000 shekels ($195,000), including boxes of cigars, bottles of champagne and jewellery, in exchange for financial or personal favours.
Netanyahu, who is Israel’s first sitting prime minister to stand trial, denies any wrongdoing, saying gifts were only accepted from friends and without him having asked for them.
In October 2019, his lawyers said they had received an expert legal opinion that concluded he had a right to accept gifts from close friends.
Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving premier, is suspected of promoting a tax project in return that would have brought Milchan millions of dollars. The finance ministry has since vetoed this proposal.