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A Bid to Oust a Successful PM? Twitterians Split as Netanyahu Trial Kicks Off in Jerusalem

© AFP 2022 / YONATHAN SINDELIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech at the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) in Jerusalem on December 22, 2020.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech at the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) in Jerusalem on December 22, 2020.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.02.2021
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has received a warm embrace from many tweeps, who feel he has been wrongly accused of breach of trust, bribery, and corruption. But some believe the resumption of his trial is a historic day and that in the end, he will be sentenced to prison.

After being postponed due to another surge in coronavirus cases, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's trial is finally set to resume later today, under a heavy security presence.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference with White House senior adviser Jared Kushner (not pictured), in Jerusalem December 21, 2020. - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.01.2021
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The Israeli prime minister is expected to attend the hearing scheduled for 9 a.m. local time at the Jerusalem District Court, where judges will concentrate on logistical procedures in his three graft probes that include receiving illegal gifts from a rich donor and securing positive coverage for himself and his family.

Netanyahu rejects the allegations and is expected to claim his innocence once he arrives at the district court, accompanied by a number of his party members, just like the previous time the PM showed up for his hearing.

But unlike before, this time around supporters are not expected to stage rallies and demonstrations in favour of the prime minister, especially not after Netanyahu released a video on Sunday urging them not to come for fear of spreading the coronavirus.

"I know that you are planning to come to the court tomorrow. I know that you want to strengthen me in front of the tailored cases full of lies against me. But we are at a moment when the coronavirus mutation keeps on spreading, in the world and here in Israel, and for the sake of your own health, I am asking you not to come tomorrow", he said.

Words of Support

Meanwhile, hours before the resumption of the trial, Twitter started buzzing, with tweeps taking to social media platform to discuss the upcoming trial. And as is often the case, Twitter users have been largely split between those who support the prime minister and those who don't.

"The trial of Netanyahu will be remembered forever. He is innocent", wrote one tweep.
Another user wrote: "in any other normal state, the trial of Netanyahu would have been scrapped and the paper [used for the indictment bill] would be used as drafts in a printer".
"... we need to say this obvious and simple truth. Netanyahu is facing trail not because of his talks with Mozes. Not because of him receiving bottles of champagne. Not because of corruption and getting positive coverage. He is facing a trial because of one reason only: because the junta decided to oust the right-wing's most successful prime minister".

This anti-establishment sentiment is nothing new and in the past the prime minister himself has accused the judiciary, the police, and the media of building cases against him, prompting thousands of Israelis to take to the streets in support of him.

"Crime" Minister?

But for many others, Netanyahu's allegations are a blunt lie, and this is the reason why some tweeps are supportive of the idea of him finally going to court.

"...the State of Israel against Benjamin Netanyahu this morning. A historic day for the criminal at the court", wrote a tweep.
"The verdict of Netanyahu should be like the one of [former Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert, and like [former President Moshe] Katzav..." stated another tweep, listing several high profile Israeli politicians who have been tried and found guilty.

Liberal circles in Israel find it hard to accept that a man with three graft probes remains in his seat and plans to continue doing so even after a fourth round of parliamentarian races set for 23 March.

For them, he is not only accused in a series of graft probes. Many blame Netanyahu for the deep health and economic crises triggered by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Others hold him responsible for widening the gaps and for splitting the Israeli society.

Yet, for Netanyahu loyalists, which make up more than a million out of Israel's six million eligible voters, these accusations are groundless, and this is the reason why they vow to stick to the prime minister no matter what.

"All those, who feel angry and helpless in the face of the evil and unjust Netanyahu trial... the decision will be at the ballot box. Vote Mahal [letters of Likud], Mahal, Mahal. Let those ballots rain".
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