Netanyahu in court
Netanyahu in courtצילום: אורן בן חקון, ישראל היום

A Jerusalem court handed Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu a victory against prosecutors Tuesday, rejecting a bid to amend the indictment in the most serious of the former prime minister’s three cases for which he is currently standing trial.

The Jerusalem District Court Tuesday morning rejected a request by the prosecution to amend the Case 4000indictment against Netanyahu – charges stemming from claims that the then-prime minister sped up regulatory changes to benefit the owner of the telecommunications giant Bezeq, in exchange for favorable coverage by Walla – a media outlet owned by Bezeq.

In their indictment, prosecutors charged that Netanyahu had instructed his advisor Shlomo Filber, who also served as director-general of the Communications Ministry, to advance the regulatory changes on behalf of Bezeq.

The original draft of the indictment claimed that Netanyahu met with Filber to instruct him regarding the regulatory changes “a very short time after Filber’s confirmation” – a point prosecutors relied upon to strengthen the claim that Netanyahu sought Filber’s appointment in large part to speed up the changes sought by Bezeq.

Following testimony in court by Filber, however, prosecutors sought to amend the indictment, dropping their assertion that Netanyahu instructed Filber shortly after his confirmation as director-general. The new draft proposed by prosecutors read “at an unknown time, after the accused, Netanyahu, decided to appoint Filber as director-general of the Communications Ministry”.

Judges rejected the proposed change Tuesday, noting that the defense has already revealed its arguments, and arguing that the circumstances did not justify the alteration.

“The amendment constitutes a significant harm to the rights and abilities of the accused to carry out their defense,” the judges wrote, adding that prosecutors cannot “change the rules of the game”.