The Jerusalem District Court on Sunday announced it was canceling all the hearings scheduled to take place this week in Benjamin Netanyahu’s trial, following the prosecution’s request for an extension in order to complete its investigation into the invasion of the prosecution witness Shlomo Filber’s mobile phone.
Filber was the director-general of the Communications Ministry in Netanyahu’s government from 2015-2018. After his arrest as part of the Case 4000 police investigation, he was suspended from his position in August 2017, and later signed a state-witness agreement.
The court’s Sunday’s decision said the state would need to present by Wednesday at 4 PM full details regarding the NSO spyware Pegasus and the use of court-sanctioned tapping orders witnesses and defendants
Sunday’s session was adjourned during the testimony of Communications Ministry legal counsel Dana Neufeld, who was asked to present materials she had received from Filber, and as long as the findings regarding the spyware invasion of Filber’s phone are not clarified, the judges prefer not to be exposed to any evidence.
The court preferred to wait and hear the full body of evidence regarding the possible police use of the spyware without a proper court order. Nevertheless, the prosecution announced on Sunday that “there were no irregularities in the investigation of Netanyahu’s cases.”
However, this response did not specify the types of orders that were approved, and the question was not answered as to whether actions were taken that the court orders did not approve, such as the remote invasion of a cellphone or eavesdropping on past conversations – both being ostensibly outside the purview of a traditional court phone-tapping permit.
The heads of several opposition factions issued a joint letter Sunday night, calling for the establishment of a state commission of inquiry into the Pegasus affair, a move that would at least suspend the Netanyahu trial in two out of the three cases against him for a considerable time.
“We reject outright the attempted silencing of the case of espionage against the citizens of Israel, one of the most serious cases in the history of the country, and demand the immediate establishment of a state commission of inquiry,” the opposition statement said, noting that “even the evasive response of the police confirms that espionage operations were indeed carried out against civilians.”
The State Attorney’s Office stated that 1,500 numbers belonging to potential suspects have been checked so far by experts from Israel’s law enforcement agencies outside the police. The experts examined whether wiretapping orders have been issued or requested beyond the orders contained in the investigation materials, and also whether actions were taken against the telephone numbers in question.