Tel Aviv Magistrate Court Judge Ronit Poznansky-Katz has been suspended by Supreme Court President Esther Hayut on Thursday, pending a disciplinary hearing on charges that she colluded with a state prosecutor in a case involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Poznansky-Katz will now be tried in a special disciplinary court on “highly inappropriate” communications she conducted with a state prosecutor in the Bezeq corruption probe against Netanyahu, which alleges that the Israeli prime minister offered regulatory help to Bezeq owner Shaul Elovitch in exchange for favorable coverage on Elovitch’s Walla news site.
Several months of text messages exchanged between Poznansky-Katz and Israel Securities Authority attorney Eran Shacham-Shavit showed the attorney explaining that he would ask for some suspects in the probe to be released, with the remand for others extended.
“Try and act surprised,” wrote Shacham-Shavit.
“I’m practicing my surprised face,” responded Poznansky-Katz.
The private conversations raised accusations that the two were obstructing justice, and that the fairness of the trial would be compromised.
In a meeting between Poznansky-Katz and Hayut on Thursday, she offered to extend her leave of absence, according to Israeli media. But her proposal was rejected by Hayut, who suspended her until the disciplinary hearing.
Netanyahu denies wrongdoing in the case.