Netanyahu Says No Intention of Seeking Plea Bargain in Corruption Cases

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit will hold the prime minister's pre-indictment hearing as scheduled on October 2-3, Netanyahu's spokesperson says

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Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu arriving at a press conference in Jerusalem, September 18, 2019.
Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu arriving at a press conference in Jerusalem, September 18, 2019. Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

A spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that the prime minister is not intending to seek a plea deal in his criminal cases.

“Mendacious reports on this are baseless,” the spokesman said, adding that Netanyahu’s attorneys would appear as planned at the prime minister's pre-indictment hearing, which will be held by Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit on October 2-3.

Haaretz reported on Thursday that Mendelblit intends to speed up the process in the next few weeks, deciding on whether to indict Netanyahu for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

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Mendelblit intends to make the decision shortly after the hearing. The cases against Netanyahu involve alleged illegal gifts (case 1000), conversations with Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes regarding favorable coverage in exchange for reducing competition (case 2000), and the Bezeq-Walla case, in which there was an alleged deal to receive favorable media coverage in exchange for regulatory and financial benefits (case 4000).

The hearing was supposed to have taken place by July 10, but was postponed after Netanyahu’s lawyers refused to collect the investigation materials. Netanyahu again wanted to postpone the hearing due to the election held on September 17, but Mendelblit refused. The prime minister called this refusal an “injustice”, adding that “it was unthinkable that an unclearly-motivated sprint overcomes the need to reach the truth.”

Sources in Kahol Lavan told Haaretz that Netanyahu could join a unity government led by Gantz “as long as he hasn’t been indicted.” The party’s No. 2, Yair Lapid, tweeted that “if Bibi steps aside, we’ll have a unity government.”