Report: Prosecutors believe Netanyahu will sign plea deal, perhaps even next week

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 within days, Channel 12 reported. news Friday night. , citing unnamed officials.

The report said top officials are assessing Netanyahu’s decision to go for a deal, and an agreement could be finalized as early as next week.

Channel 13, which also reports on the latest developments, was less optimistic about the prospects for a deal. It quoted unnamed people with knowledge of the matter saying it appeared to be a “50/50” issue.

Without citing a source, the network said Netanyahu’s family is not opposed to such a deal, after rejecting previous talks about an agreement.

However, Channel 12 also noted that Mandelblit strongly distrusts Netanyahu and has rejected proposals by the latter’s lawyers to begin exchanging texts of an amended indictment for a deal.

Netanyahu, he stresses, must first accept the framework of the deal as a precondition: that he will be convicted of fraud and breach of trust; that he will remain an MK until the court determines his sentence and sentences him to 3-6 months in prison, which will be commuted to community service; and that he agrees that his actions will be marked as “moral disgrace” — taking him out of public service for seven years.

Only after the prime minister fully agrees to this can the parties begin to work out the nuts and bolts of the deal.

Channel 12 also said one person pushing Mandelblit into a deal is former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak. According to the report, Barak believes that the public interest in a plea deal outweighs the interest in seeing the process move forward. The report does not state why he believes this is the case. However, Barak believes this is only the case as long as the deal includes Netanyahu’s actions that involve moral depravity.

The network said it had contacted Barak and confirmed that it had held talks with Mandelblit about this. He won’t say who initiated those conversations.

Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Aharon Barak speaks at a conference at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya on Jan. 2, 2018. (Flash90)

In recent days, many observing the political sphere have judged that a plea deal could undermine the current governing coalition, compounded mainly by a distaste for Netanyahu. New leadership in Likud, according to conventional wisdom, would likely lead to the disintegration of the government and the formation of a right-wing coalition.

However, unnamed sources in the coalition told Channel 12 on Friday that they believed the government would survive a deal, at least for the foreseeable future – noting that it would likely take months for Likud to settle its future if Netanyahu leaves.

The deal reportedly being offered to Netanyahu would see the bribery charges against him removed. The former prime minister would admit lesser accusations of fraud and breach of trust and receive only a lenient community service. However, he would also have to agree to a conviction that includes “moral disgrace” — taking him out of public life for at least seven years and likely ending his political career.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit attends a conference of the Channel 13 News company in Jerusalem on June 3, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The issue of moral disgrace is currently seen as the main sticking point between the parties, but Mandelbit is reportedly steadfast in his rejection of any other option.

More specifically, the parties would disagree on when Netanyahu would resign from the Knesset — and therefore who would have the authority to determine whether the charges amount to moral disgrace.

If he resigns before a final ruling is made, it will be up to the Supreme Court judge, who heads the Central Election Commission, to make a decision before the next Knesset election. However, if Netanyahu remains in office until a verdict is handed down — Mandelblit’s alleged preference — then the trial judges will make the final decision whether his actions amount to moral disgrace.

Netanyahu – who has long publicly declared that his innocence would be proven in court, and has previously sworn not to accept a plea deal – is reportedly in talks with aides to move forward with a deal. Reports show that Mandelblit is keen to get things done 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 the recent testimony of key state witness Nir Hefetz was effective on the prosecution’s case, and amid concerns that the forthcoming testimony of a witness to a other state, Shlomo Filber, could also be harmful .

Nir Hefetz at the Jerusalem court on December 6, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Numerous state officials were unaware of the negotiations for a plea deal with Netanyahu until Wednesday, with only Amit Aisman, the prosecutor, and Liat Ben Ari, the chief prosecutor in the Netanyahu trial, according to a Channel. 13 Friday report.

Netanyahu is on trial in three separate corruption cases: fraud and breach of trust in Case 1000 and Case 2000, and charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in Case 4000. He denies all charges against him, saying the charges were fabricated by a biased police force and the prosecution, overseen by a weak Attorney General, in conjunction with political opponents and the left-wing media.

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