Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is negotiating a plea agreement that, if confirmed, would end his corruption trial, but could keep him out of politics for a long time.
Under the terms of the agreement being negotiated with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, Netanyahu will plead guilty to two counts of breach of trust, which would commute a suspended sentence of community service, with the indictment dropped. Fraud and bribery offenses against him in 2019.
According to Reuters, negotiations with the judiciary will face an obstacle. One of the former prime minister’s demands to end the deal is to spare him the conviction of “moral corruption” that, under Israeli law, would force Netanyahu out of politics for seven years.
The inclusion of the “moral corruption” clause would run counter to a pledge by Netanyahu, who lost power in June 2021 after 12 consecutive years as prime minister, to return to government and open a leadership battle in the now-opposing Likud.
Benjamin Netanyahu is on trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three separate cases. Former Prime Minister He always denied the accusations and spoke of a “witch hunt.” and a “judicial coup”.
In the most serious charge, he was accused of bribery, fraud and breach of trust to enforce rules that Shaul Elovitch, the largest shareholder in Bezeq Group, profited from in exchange for favorable coverage on the Walla portal.
In the second case, Netanyahu is accused of fraud and breach of trust for receiving illegal gifts worth 700,000 shekels (about 183,000 euros) in exchange for political favours.
The reason for the latest accusation is due to suspicions of fraud and breach of trust in the agreement with the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth Damage to competitor’s magazine Israel Hume, in favor of Netanyahu, in exchange for better coverage of the then prime minister in the first media.
Aharon Barak, a former head of the Israeli Supreme Court and a longtime ally of Netanyahu, has touted the possibility of a deal. Speaking to Radio Kan, Barak said the agreement would ease pressure on the judiciary, which Netanyahu’s supporters accuse of depriving the former prime minister of a fair trial.
Barak even acted as a mediator in the negotiations between Netanyahu’s defense and the attorney general. These accusations and this unique trial are dividing the country. To heal this wound, a plea bargain is the best option. “This position is positive and vital for the State of Israel,” Barak said in statements to the Ynet website.
However, the hypothesis that Benjamin Netanyahu emerged relatively unscathed from the operations for which he is responsible is not consensual among Israelis. Hundreds of people gathered Saturday night outside the home of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit in the town of Petah Tikva to protest against the prospect of a deal with the former prime minister. The protesters demanded that the trial end and that judges decide whether Netanyahu had committed crimes punishable by law.
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