Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu has been negotiating a deal with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit for several weeks, according to Israeli media reports.
Why this matters: A key point is whether the deal, which would require Netanyahu to plead guilty to corruption charges, would require the former prime minister to step away from politics. Any deal would create a political firearm in Israel, and could topple the current government.
- That’s because Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government – which includes leftist, centrist and right-wing parties – was formed six months ago primarily to oust Netanyahu from power. It ousted the largest party, Likud, because of corruption allegations against party leader Netanyahu.
- Netanyahu is the “glue” that holds the current government together. If he leaves the stage, Israel could either head for new elections or form a new government with Netanyahu’s eventual successor as Likud leader.
Running news: Last Wednesday, Israeli journalist Ben Caspita previously reported About the conversation, which was conducted in secret between Netanyahu’s lawyer and the attorney general.
- Several other reports have followed, outlining the proposed terms of the deal. Neither Netanyahu nor the Justice Ministry have denied him. Netanyahu has not commented publicly, but many of his supporters in Likud are calling on him to fight.
- Charges against Netanyahu include that he systematically solicited gifts totaling more than $250,000 from businessmen and offered regulatory benefits in exchange for favorable media coverage.
Behind the scenes: Netanyahu started talks informally through mediators. Netanyahu’s lawyers weighed in, after the attorney general demanded a formal motion.
- Netanyahu’s lawyers pushed him for three years to consider a petition, but he refused. Both his wife and son pressured him to stand trial in court.
- But with Mandelblit’s term ending in late January, Netanyahu’s lawyers urged him to hold talks once again, given the long odds of being acquitted on all three charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, according to multiple media reports. .
- His lawyers argued that Mandelblit was interested in closing the case before stepping down and might be willing to offer him a better deal than the next attorney general.
state of play: According to reports, Netanyahu’s lawyers proposed that he plead guilty to two charges, serve without jail time and resign from the Knesset, but with the possibility of running again in future elections.
- Mandelblit insisted that any plea deal involved jail time – must be served in the form of community service – and required that Netanyahu stay out of politics for at least seven years.
What will happen next: Netanyahu has two weeks to finalize a deal before Mandelblit leaves office.