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Netanyahu’s lawyers begin cross-examining key witness in premier’s graft trial

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s defense team on Tuesday began cross-examining the first witness in the premier’s graft trial, who in earlier testimony had told the court how close associates of Netanyahu were directly involved in shaping the content of a news site to the premier’s liking.

Former Walla news CEO Ilan Yeshua is a key witness in Case 4000, in which Netanyahu is alleged to have abused his powers when he served as both premier and communications minister from 2014 to 2017 to illicitly and lucratively affect the business interests of Bezeq’s controlling shareholder, Shaul Elovitch. In exchange, Elovitch allegedly provided Netanyahu with positive coverage of the prime minister and his family by the Elovitch-owned Walla news site.

Netanyahu faces charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in the case, while Elovitch and his wife Iris were also charged with bribery. All three defendants deny wrongdoing.

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The trial at the Jerusalem District Court resumed Monday after a pause since April 20 to discuss several requests by Netanyahu’s attorneys to release pieces of evidence. Netanyahu himself has only been in the courthouse for two of the hearings. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for a hearing at the District Court in Jerusalem on April 5, 2021,(Oren Ben Hakoon/POOL)

During his earlier testimony, Yeshua described how he was repeatedly instructed by his bosses and people close to Netanyahu to skew the news site, Israel’s second-largest, toward positive coverage of the premier and........

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