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Netanyahu trial resumes, post-election consultations begin

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Political and judicial sagas converge in Israel on Monday, with the resumption of the corruption trial of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the start of post-legislative consultations to have the president nominate a candidate to form the next government.

Judges summoned Benjamin Netanyahu, 71, including 15 in power, to the Jerusalem District Court for opening statements by the prosecution, new stage in the first trial of an Israeli head of government in the history of the Hebrew state . Benjamin Netanyahu is accused of corruption, fraud and breach of trust in three cases, charges he strongly denies.

Read also: Netanyahu secures fragile majority in parliament

While senior prosecutor Liat Ben-Ari will develop his argument against Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, President Reuven Rivlin will begin two-day talks with party officials a few kilometers from the tribunal, which will be decisive for the future. policy of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Likud, the prime minister’s right-wing party, won the March 23 parliamentary elections – the fourth in less than two years – with 30 out of 120 seats in the Knesset. But this result, combined with that of his natural allies, does not assure him the majority of 61 seats to form a stable government. And in front of him, many formations are decided to put an end to his twelve years in a row of reign.

But for lack of a common leader in this camp, Benjamin Netanyahu could nonetheless obtain the most recommendations, with the support of sixteen deputies from the ultra-Orthodox Shass and Unified Judaism parties of the Torah, and six from the far-right alliance Religious Zionism .

“Unusual coalitions”

Usually, the candidate who gets the most recommendations is nominated and has 28 days to form a government, which can be extended by fourteen days by the president. But Reuven Rivlin hinted last week that seat calculations might not be the only factor determining his decision and that on Wednesday he would appoint an MP capable of forming a government that “will heal divisions (…) and rebuild society. “. “Uncommon coalitions” may be needed to lift Israel out of the impasse, the president added.

Given the open acrimony that has reigned in the past between Benjamin Netanyahu and Reuven Rivlin, Likud has interpreted these statements as a sign of tacit support for the anti-Bibi camp, the nickname given to the prime minister by his supporters. A member of Likud when he was a deputy, Reuven Rivlin was accused by the party of overstepping his duties, especially honorary ones.

In the bloc opposed to the Prime Minister, the centrist Yaïr Lapid leads the dance with 17 seats for his Yesh Atid party. But forming an anti-Netanyahu coalition would require an unlikely alliance between Yair Lapid, Gideon Saar, former conservative minister of Benjamin Netanyahu, Naftali Bennett, leader of the radical right and former ally of the prime minister, and other parties. center and left.

The crisis could last

Surprised by the ballot, the formation of a government appears impossible on both sides without final support: that of the Islamist party Raam de Mansour Abbas, which won four seats and said it was open to discussions with both camps. But the religious Zionism party has already ruled out participating in a government alongside Mansour Abbas, complicating the outgoing Prime Minister’s task.

Read also: Abbas the Islamist could crown Netanyahu

If neither side manages to form a coalition, new elections could be called, prolonging the crisis. For the time being, Benjamin Netanyahu’s trial does not threaten his ambitions since he would only have to resign in the event of a final conviction and the exhaustion of all remedies could take years. However, the procedure enters a more intense phase on Monday with the presentation of evidence.

Benjamin Netanyahu will be able to leave the court after the opening statements of the prosecution, when the hearing of witnesses begins. He could then find himself facing protesters who have been demanding his resignation for months, meeting every week in front of his residence and in court at each hearing.

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