Talks between Benjamin Netanyahu and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit over a possible plea deal in the former prime minister’s criminal trial have made significant progress, and the prosecution believes the ex-Israeli leader will sign such a deal. agreement within days, Channel 12 reported Friday night. , citing unnamed officials.
The report says senior officials believe Netanyahu has decided to strike a deal and that a deal could be finalized as early as next week.
Channel 13, which also reported on the latest developments, was less optimistic about the prospects for a deal. He quoted anonymous people familiar with the matter saying it looked like a “50/50” question.
Without citing a source, the network said Netanyahu’s family does not oppose such a deal, having dismissed previous talks of a deal.
However, Channel 12 also noted that Mandelblit is highly suspicious of Netanyahu and rejected offers from Netanyahu’s lawyers to start trading the texts of an amended indictment for a deal.
Netanyahu, he insists, must first accept as a basic condition the framework of the agreement: that he will be found guilty of fraud and breach of trust; that he will remain a deputy until the court determines his sentence and condemns him to 3 to 6 months in prison which will be commuted to work of general interest; and that he will accept his actions being labeled as carrying “moral turpitude” – barring him from public office for seven years.
Only once the Prime Minister is in full agreement with this can the parties begin to work out the details of the deal.
Channel 12 also said that one person pushing Mandelblit to make a deal is former Supreme Court Chief Justice Aharon Barak. Barak, according to the report, believes the public interest in a plea deal outweighs the interest in seeing the trial move forward. The report did not say why it thinks this is the case. However, Barak thinks that is only the case as long as the deal includes Netanyahu’s actions of moral turpitude.
The network said it contacted Barak, and he confirmed he had conversations about it with Mandelblit. He would not say who initiated these conversations.
In recent days, many political observers have opined that a plea deal could doom the current ruling coalition, which has come together mainly out of disgust for Netanyahu. The new Likud leadership, according to conventional wisdom, would likely lead to the break-up of the government and the formation of a right-wing coalition.
However, unnamed coalition sources told Channel 12 on Friday they believed the government would survive a deal, at least for the immediate future – noting that it would likely take months for Likud to sort out its future. if Netanyahu leaves.
The deal reportedly offered to Netanyahu would see the corruption charges against him dropped. The former prime minister would admit to less serious charges of fraud and breach of trust and only receive a light sentence of community service. However, he would also be required to accept a sentence which includes ‘moral turpitude’ – ejecting him from public life for at least seven years and likely ending his political career.
The issue of moral turpitude is currently seen as the main sticking point between the parties, but Mandelbit is said to be unwavering in his rejection of any other option.
Specifically, the parties would disagree on when Netanyahu would step down from the Knesset — and therefore who would have the power to determine whether the charges constitute moral turpitude.
If he steps down before a final verdict, it would be up to the Supreme Court judge who heads the Central Elections Committee to make a decision before the next Knesset election. If, however, Netanyahu remains in office until a verdict is delivered – Mandelblit’s alleged preference – then the trial judges will make the final decision on whether his actions amount to moral turpitude.
Netanyahu – who has long publicly proclaimed that his innocence will be proven in court, and has already sworn not accept any plea deal – would have consulted with aides to move forward with a deal. Reports have indicated that Mandelblit may be eager to wrap up before his term ends at the end of the month.
According to Channel 13, Netanyahu began considering a plea deal after receiving a legal assessment that recent testimony by key state witness Nir Hefetz was effective for the prosecution’s case, and amid fears that the upcoming testimony of another state witness, Shlomo Filber, could also be prejudicial. .
Many prosecution officials were unaware of negotiations for a plea deal with Netanyahu until Wednesday, with only Amit Aisman, the state attorney, and Liat Ben Ari, the lead prosecutor in the Netanyahu trial, being told. monitored, according to Channel 13. report Friday.
Netanyahu is on trial in three separate corruption cases: fraud and breach of trust in Case 1000 and in Case 2000, and bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges in Case 4000. He denies all allegations against him and claims the charges were fabricated. by a biased police and prosecution, overseen by a weak attorney general, allied with political opponents and the leftist media.