- His next court appearance will be on January 13, when his formal response to the charges will be presented.
JERUSALEM: An Israeli court ruled Tuesday it will begin hearing evidence in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's corruption trial in February, rather than January as previously scheduled.
The ruling, published by the justice ministry, said that evidentiary disputes combined with coronavirus restrictions caused the postponement.
The presentation of evidence marks a more substantive phase of the trial after months of lawyers' arguments about the wording of charges and defence access to prosecution files.
Netanyahu is accused of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
His trial opened in May, with the premier speaking only to identify himself and confirm he had read and understood the charges.
His presence was not required at subsequent sessions where his lawyers argued for more time to review prosecution evidence.
His next court appearance will be on January 13, when his formal response to the charges will be presented.
The longest-serving prime minister in Israeli history, Netanyahu says the charges against him -- filed by an attorney general he appointed -- are part of a witch-hunt to drive him from office.
In a live Facebook broadcast before entering the courtroom for the May 24 opening, he lashed out at what he called the "fabricated and ludicrous" accusations.
The prosecution has assembled over 300 witnesses to back its allegations.
They state that Netanyahu, the first prime minister in Israeli history to be indicted while in office, accepted improper gifts and sought to illegally trade favours with media moguls in exchange for positive coverage.