'Slim' Chances to Reach Netanyahu Plea Deal Before Attorney General Retires

Even if Benjamin Netanyahu accepts all conditions of the deal, including one barring him from political office for years, it might still be too late to settle all the details before Israel's attorney general retires

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Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, in 2015.
Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, in 2015.Credit: Mark Israel Salam
Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel

The chances of reaching a plea deal with Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before the end of Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit's term are "slim," associates of the attorney general said Sunday.

According to a source close to Mendelblit, even if Netanyahu agrees tonight to the three principles Mendelblit has set as a condition of the deal – admitting to two cases of fraud and breach of trust, agreeing to a finding of moral turpitude, and complying with a community service sentence – it is unclear whether it will be possible to put such details into effect within the next two weeks.

Since negotiations for a plea bargain were first made public, Mendelblit has been harshly criticized by Justice Ministry officials and the legal team that manages Netanyahu's corruption cases, which will be required to negotiate with the former prime minister's defense attorneys on the wording of the amended indictment. Sources close to the attorney general also believe that he will have a difficult time converting those who oppose the deal in the time he has left.

According to a report, the main point of contention is the wording of the amended indictment, over which the parties are unlikely to come to an agreement over the next two weeks.

The prosecution intends to emphasize the severity of Netanyahu's actions in order to ensure that the court accepts a moral turpitude clause in the deal, a key demand of the prosecution.

However, harsh language could undermine the prosecution's efforts and lead the court to determine that the agreed punishment is disproportionate to the gravity of the confessed crimes. In order to balance waiving a prison sentence, the prosecution plans to demand that Netanyahu face a high fine, up to hundreds of thousands of shekels.

According to the outline of the deal, Netanyahu will admit to two charges of breach of trust, in cases 4000 and 1000, and the prosecution will repeal charges of bribery in case 4000 and breach of trust in case 2000.

Netanyahu will also face a few months of community service, according to the current outline of the deal. Mendelblit wants the plea bargain to include a finding of moral turpitude, under which Netanyahu would be barred from political life for years.

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