Netanyahu close to plea deal that would see him leave politics - report

Benjamin Netanyahu could leave the Knesset in exchange for the closure of Case 2000 and removal of the bribery charge in Case 4000.

Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset in June. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset in June.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu and attorney-general Avichai Mandelblit are close to reaching a deal that would see the former prime minister leave politics, media reports claimed on Thursday.

According to the reports, Netanyahu – currently the head of the opposition – would leave the Knesset and in exchange, Case 2000 would be closed and the bribery charge in Case 4000 would be removed.

In return, Netanyahu would plead guilty to the remaining charges of fraud and breach of trust, and would receive a sentence of community service without jail time.

A resignation by Netanyahu would create a political earthquake in Israel. Not only would it launch a race to replace him as head of the Likud, but it will also likely lead to the collapse of the current coalition led by Naftali Bennett. A new Likud leader would be able to draw right-wing parties away and establish an alternative coalition without Israel needing to head to a new election.

N12 reported on Thursday night that negotiations between the sides were stuck over the question of when Netnayahu will quit the Knesset, and whether it will be before he is convicted under the plea deal or after, since doing so would impact the question of whether his conviction would prevent his ability to run in a future election.

Talks between Netanyahu’s defense team and the prosecution were first reported in Maariv and are said to have been going on for several weeks. Channel 12 speculated that a deal could be signed within days,

Netanyahu reportedly initiated negotiations out of a belief that Mandelblit, who will step down from his role at the beginning of next month, is interested in finishing his tenure as attorney-general with a “clean slate.

PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu and Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit talk at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem in 2015. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu and Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit talk at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem in 2015. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)

The former prime minister reportedly hopes that the short window of opportunity could be used to negotiate a suitable plea deal for himself, according to the report.

The State Attorney’s Office refused to confirm nor deny the reports. “As a policy, we do not comment on private conversations held with defense attorneys,” the office said in a statement.

Netanyahu was indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in the high-profile cases 1000, 2000 and 4000. The opposition head is currently on trial for bribery in Case 4000, the “Bezeq-Walla affair.”

The initial stages of the Netanyahu trial started in January and May 2020, with the witness stage of the Netanyahu trial starting in April.

Even after Case 4000 concludes, the prosecution will also be spending significant time making arguments against Netanyahu in the Case 1000 “illegal gifts affair,” and the Case 2000 Yediot Aharonot-Israel Hayom “attempted media bribery affair.”