Israeli officials wrap up Netanyahu’s pre-indictment hearing

Ram Caspi (L), the prime minister's lawyer, arrives at the Ministry of Justice in Jerusalem on October 2, 2019 ahead of the pre-indictment hearing for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (AFP)
Updated 07 October 2019

Israeli officials wrap up Netanyahu’s pre-indictment hearing

  • The allegations against Netanyahu include suspicions that he accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars of champagne and cigars from billionaire friends, offered to trade favors with a newspaper publisher

Israel’s state prosecutors and Benjamin Netanyahu’s lawyers were wrapping up the pre-indictment hearing over a slew of corruption allegations against the prime minister on Monday.
Netanyahu’s lawyers arrived at the Justice Ministry in Jerusalem for the fourth and final day of the proceedings where they were meeting with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and his team to appeal that the cases against Netanyahu be dropped.
Mandelblit has recommended that Netanyahu be indicted for fraud, breach of trust and bribery in three separate cases that have dogged the long-serving premier. The hearing is the final step before the attorney general decides whether to issue a formal indictment.
The legal woes come as Netanyahu is fighting for his political survival, with the country’s unprecedented second election of the year failing to provide him with a clear victory. In last month’s election, neither Netanyahu nor his chief challenger, Benny Gantz, secured the required parliamentary majority to form a new government. Both men have expressed support for a unity government as a way out of the deadlock, but they remain far apart on who should lead it and what smaller parties would join them.

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The legal woes come as Benjamin Netanyahu is fighting for his political survival, with Israel’s unprecedented second election of the year failing to provide him with a clear victory.

Gantz and his centrist Blue and White party have so far rejected a partnership with Netanyahu, citing his legal woes. A failure to reach a deal could trigger a third election in less than a year. Netanyahu is desperate to stay on as prime minister, a post he can use as a pulpit as he tries to fend off any charges. Israeli law requires Cabinet ministers to step down if charged with a crime. But the law is vague for sitting prime ministers, meaning he could theoretically remain in the post if he is indicted, though he would likely face calls to step aside.
The allegations against Netanyahu include suspicions that he accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars of champagne and cigars from billionaire friends, offered to trade favors with a newspaper publisher and used his influence to help a wealthy telecom magnate in exchange for favorable coverage on a popular news site.
Netanyahu has called the allegations part of a witch hunt, lashing out against the media, police, prosecutors and the justice system. The attorney general is expected to render his final decision by the end of the year.


UN agency: Iran violating all restrictions of nuclear deal

Updated 44 min 58 sec ago

UN agency: Iran violating all restrictions of nuclear deal

  • Iran signed the nuclear deal in 2015 with the United States, Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia
  • Known as the JCPOA, it allows Iran only to keep a stockpile of 202.8 kilograms

VIENNA: Iran has continued to increase its stockpiles of enriched uranium and remains in violation of its deal with world powers, the United Nations' atomic watchdog said Friday.
The International Atomic Energy Agency reported the finding in a confidential document distributed to member countries and seen by The Associated Press.
The agency said that as of May 20, Iran’s total stockpile of low-enriched uranium amounted to 1,571.6 kilograms (1.73 tons), up from 1,020.9 kilograms (1.1 tons) on Feb. 19.
Iran signed the nuclear deal in 2015 with the United States, Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia. Known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, it allows Iran only to keep a stockpile of 202.8 kilograms (447 pounds).
The US pulled out of the deal unilaterally in 2018.
The IAEA reported that Iran has also been continuing to enrich uranium to a purity of 4.5%, higher than the 3.67% allowed under the JCPOA. It is also above the pact's limitations on heavy water.
The nuclear deal promised Iran economic incentives in return for the curbs on its nuclear program. Since President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the deal, Iran has been slowly violating the restrictions.
The ultimate goal of the JCPOA is to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb — something that Tehran says it does not want to do. It has been open about the violations and continues to allow IAEA inspectors access to its facilities to monitor their operations.
It is now in violation of all restrictions outlined by the JCPOA, which Tehran says it hopes will pressure the other nations involved to increase economic incentives to make up for hard-hitting sanctions imposed by Washington after the US withdrawal.
Though Iran has been hard hit by the new coronavirus pandemic, the IAEA said it has maintained its verification and monitoring activities in the country, primarily by chartering aircraft to fly inspectors to and from Iran.
It cited “exceptional cooperation” from authorities in Austria, where it is based, and Iran in facilitating the operation.