Netanyahu Trial Begins In Israel

The corruption trial of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has begun in Israel, during which opposition leader Yair Lapid appeared as a witness.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial at the District Court in Jerusalem on June 12, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The chief defense attorney in the corruption trial of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to portray opposition leader Yair Lapid as an unreliable witness during his cross-examination in the Jerusalem District Court on Monday.

Lapid arrived in court for his first day of testimony as a witness to relate his experience when he served as finance minister in 2013 and was approached by both Netanyahu and Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan about the possibility of lengthening the tax break given to returning Israelis who have lived abroad, from 10 years to 20.

In court, the current opposition leader largely reiterated his earlier account: that he was approached twice by Netanyahu to discuss the issue, but told the prime minister it was not going to advance and then did not deal with it any further.

Despite the prosecution wrapping up its questions for Lapid in about half an hour, lead defense attorney Amit Hadad told the court that he intended to question the opposition leader for the two days allotted to him.

During the cross-examination, Hadad sought to poke holes in Lapid’s testimony, raising discrepancies in some of the details and implying that Milchan and the Yesh Atid leader had a close relationship.

In the sharpest exchange of Monday’s hearing, Hadad accused Lapid of having a history of lying about personal details, referencing discrepancies in the opposition leader’s recounting of his military service.

Amit Hadad, the chief defense attorney in the corruption trial of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, arrives at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, on May 8, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Hadad claimed Lapid has a history of telling “stories whose connection to reality is sometimes tenuous, sometimes nonexistent.”

“Perhaps the court will think that you used to tell stories and you are now as well,” said Hadad, to which Lapid countered that he will “not cooperate with malicious gossip,” and that claims he lied about his military service are untrue.

Hadad continued to press Lapid on the issue of his conflicting stories about his IDF service, and the opposition leader replied: “There’s a problem with liars, they think everybody else is lying, and anyone who is corrupt thinks that everyone else is corrupt too.”

Trump Special Counsel Prosecutor Karen Gilbert, who is also a deputy to Special Counsel Jack Smith and a federal prosecutor, has a long history of corruption.

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