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Netanyahu corruption hearings postponed until after Israel's election

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu got some good news on Monday: the testimony phase of his trial won't begin until after Israel's March 23 elections.

Why it matters: Netanyahu faces charges of bribery, breach of trust and fraud in connection with a series of corruption scandals. If witness testimony and the presentation of evidence began before the election, it could have dominated the news cycle and damaged his hopes of winning a majority.


  • Instead they'll begin on April 5 with three hearings per week, the judges overseeing the trial announced on Monday.
  • The bad news for Netanyahu is that the hearings will align with the post-election process of attempting to form a government.
  • Between the lines: A new right-wing majority would likely pass laws attempting to end Netanyahu's trial.

Flashback: In the court session two weeks ago in which Netanyahu pleaded not guilty, his lawyers asked that the testimony phase be postponed for another three to four months. They cited procedural reasons and didn’t mention the elections.

  • But several hours after Netanyahu left the courtroom, he denounced the charges against him and argued for a postponement until after the elections and said that starting the hearing before March 23 “would look like a flagrant interference in the elections."

Driving the news: The judges rejected Netanyahu’s demands that two of the charges against him be annulled on procedural grounds and that some pieces of evidence be barred because they were allegedly collected illegally. They did criticize the attorney general for the process by which the investigation into Netanyahu was authorized.

Biden explains justification for Syria strike in letter to congressional leadership

President Biden told congressional leadership in a letter Saturday that this week's airstrike against facilities tied to Iranian-backed militia groups in Syria was consistent with the U.S. right to self-defense.

Why it matters: Some Democrats, including Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), have criticized the Biden administration for the strike and demanded a briefing.

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FDA authorizes Johnson & Johnson's one-shot COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

The Food and Drugs Administration on Saturdayissued an emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson's one-shot coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: The authorization of a third coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. will help speed up the vaccine rollout across the country, especially since the J&J shot only requires one dose as opposed to Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech's two-shot vaccines.

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Italy tightens COVID restrictions for 5 regions amid warnings of a growing prevalence of variants

Italy on Saturday announced it was tightening restrictions in five of the country's 20 regions in an effort curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Driving the news: The announcement comes as health experts and scientists warn of the more transmissible coronavirus variants, per Reuters.

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Palestinian Authority announces new COVID restrictions as cases surge

The Palestinian Authority on Saturday announced fresh coronavirus restrictions, including a partial lockdown, for the occupied West Bank as COVID-19 cases surge.

The big picture: The new measures come as Israel, which leads the world in vaccinations, faces increased pressure to ensure Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip have equal access to vaccines.

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Myanmar military fires UN ambassador after anti-coup speech

Myanmar's military regime on Saturday fired the country's Ambassador to the United Nations, Kyaw Moe Tun, a day after he gave a pro-democracy speech asking UN member nations to publicly condemn the Feb. 1 coup, The New York Times reports.

Details: State television said the ambassador had "betrayed the country and spoken for an unofficial organization which doesn’t represent the country and had abused the power and responsibilities of an ambassador."

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Scoop: Biden admin call on Putin pipeline provokes GOP anger

A briefing between the State Department and congressional staff over Vladimir Putin's Russia-Germany gas pipeline got tense this week, with Biden officials deflecting questions about why they hadn't moved faster and more aggressively with sanctions tostop its completion.

  • The Biden officials also denied negotiating with the Germans over a potential side deal to allow the pipeline to be finished.
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