Jan 16, 2022: According to a report by Al Jazeera, news agencies have reported that former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is negotiating a plea bargain to end his corruption case.
Netanyahu, who lost power in June after 12 consecutive years as prime minister and is now the leader of the opposition, has pleaded guilty to three counts of bribery, breach of trust and fraud. He was indicted in 2019.
The agreement could be signed earlier this week, a source close to the talks told AP on Sunday. Any agreement can save Netanyahu from a shameful and protracted ordeal on an issue that has gripped the nation.
A source told Reuters that the talks were stuck on a condition that would remove Netanyahu from politics. Sources said Netanyahu, 72, was in talks with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit under an agreement to reduce charges and, in any case, to commute the prison sentence to community service.
The catch appears to be Netanyahu’s demand to be spared a conviction carrying a “moral turpitude” clause, which under Israeli law would force him to quit politics for years, said the source, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity. The State Attorney’s Office declined to comment.
Reports of a deal angered critics who said it would undermine the rule of law.
Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz tweeted, “Anyone who, for personal reasons, undermines public confidence in democracy, is not eligible for the deal.” Horowitz was referring to Netanyahu’s efforts when he was accused of questioning Israel’s justice system, saying it was “biased”.
Protesters gathered outside the attorney general’s home on Saturday evening to protest the agreement. Any agreement will be challenged in court.
A Netanyahu lawyer who has denied all charges and accused prosecutors of politically motivated witch hunts did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Netanyahu has vowed to oust his successor, Naphtali Bennett, a nationalist who has joined a coalition of the most diverse parties.
However, Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party failed to form a new government last year in part because kindred parties refused to join Netanyahu, citing the ongoing trial.
Should he be able to put his legal troubles to rest, Netanyahu might in theory be able to muster a broad new rightist coalition. If he were barred from politics, right-wing members of Bennett’s coalition could opt to form a new government with a Likud party under new leadership.
On the other hand, a Likud spokesman said he did not know about any such negotiations.
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