Netanyahu Appears in Court, Judges Postpone Testimony

Former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu attends a hearing on corruption charges at the Yerushalayim District Court, Tuesday. (Jack Guez/Pool via REUTERS)

Former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu appeared in court for the first time in over half a year on Tuesday as a one-time confidant, Nir Hefetz, prepared to take the stand against him in a high-profile corruption case. Netanyahu entered the courtroom Tuesday accompanied by a lawyer, his younger son, Avner, and a pair of supporters from his Likud party.

His lawyers immediately asked that Tuesday’s session be delayed following reports that another witness had come forward with new evidence alleging that Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, had accepted an expensive bracelet as a gift from two billionaire friends, producer Arnon Milchan and Australian billionaire James Packer.

The Yerushalayim District Court decided to postpone the testimony until Monday of next week.

Nir Hefetz, a former Netanyahu aide, is a star prosecution witness in the case against Netanyahu, with his close proximity to the Netanyahu during several years in office a key part of the evidence. Hefetz left a long career in journalism in 2009 to work as a spokesman for Netanyahu’s government, then in 2014 became the Netanyahu family’s spokesman and adviser.

Hefetz is expected to testify that Netanyahu told former Walla CEO Ilan Yeshua to direct coverage as the former prime minister wanted. Further, he will say that Netanyahu gave him orders to ensure that Communications Ministry policy benefitted Bezeq and Walla owner Shaul Elovitch.