Senior Israeli Official Rejects Netanyahu Plea Deal That Keeps Him in Politics

In first public remarks on negotiations with the former prime minister, Deputy State Prosecutor Shlomi Lemberger says 'it is inconceivable' that the final indictment would not include moral turpitude

Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset in December.
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset in December. Credit: Emil Salman
Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel

A senior official in the State Prosecutor’s Office said on Thursday that no plea deal would be made in former Prime Miniter Benjamin Netanyahu's corruption cases without him admitting to charges that would bar him from political office.

In the first public statement by any official in his office on the plea deal with Netanyahu, Deputy State Prosecutor Shlomi Lemberger said, “It is inconceivable that such an indictment (that would be filed alongside the plea bargain), even after being reduced, would not include moral turpitude,” meaning Netanyahu would not be allowed to run for office for seven years.

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit met earlier this week with leading prosecutors, who slammed the current plea bargain being drafted, which would drop the fraud and bribery clause.

Haaretz reported that Mandelblit intends to insist that Netanyahu confess as part of the agreement to the core indictment in the Walla-Bezeq case – receiving perks and benefits from former controlling Bezeq share holder, Shaul Elovitch, and giving instructions to provide him favors in return. So far Mendelblit has not responded to the lawyers’ request.

Netanyahu’s lawyers asked Mendelblit on Thursday evening for his latest proposal for a plea deal in the bribery case involving the former prime minister and Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes.

However, sources close to Mendelblit and to Netanyahu believe no plea bargain will be reached before the attorney general ends his term at the end of the month, and that his successor will continue the negotiations.

Sources in the prosecution denied the possibility that State Prosecutor Amit Aisman, who will replace Mendelblit until a permanent attorney general is appointed, will conduct the negotiations with Netanyahu’s lawyers.

Netanyahu’s lawyers believe that since the meeting Mendelblit has been looking for a way out of the negotiation, which has been ongoing over the past few months.

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