The corruption trial of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel resumed on Monday, bringing back into focus the legal and political challenges he faces even as he presides over the Israeli military’s war in Gaza.
Israeli courts stopped hearing non-urgent cases after Hamas launched its surprise attack from Gaza on Oct. 7, but on Friday the country’s justice minister, Yariv Levin, said that most normal court operations could resume because the suspension had expired.
Mr. Netanyahu did not attend Monday’s hearing, which dealt with procedural issues, according to Israeli news media reports.
He could testify in person in the spring as part of the defense’s case.
Mr. Netanyahu has been on trial since 2020, accused of bestowing political favors on businessmen in exchange for expensive gifts and offering regulatory benefits to media moguls in exchange for positive news coverage. He denies the charges and has rejected calls to resign.
Over the summer, lawmakers from Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing party, Likud, introduced a bill that would have stripped the attorney general — who has been critical of him — of the ability to oversee the prosecution of government ministers, including the prime minister. The bill was later withdrawn but it came amid heightened protests that had been going on for months over the government’s efforts to assert more authority over the judiciary.
As the trial resumes, Mr. Netanyahu’s standing with the Israeli public has worsened. Many Israelis blame his government for the failure of the security services to prevent the attack by Hamas, in which roughly 1,200 people were killed, according to Israeli authorities, and about 240 people taken hostage.