Netanyahu Expected to Make Plea Deal Banning Him From Politics for Seven Years, Israeli Media Says

© AFP 2022 / ABIR SULTANIn this file photo taken on March 11, 2021 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a joint press conference with his Hungarian and Czech counterparts in Jerusalem
In this file photo taken on March 11, 2021 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a joint press conference with his Hungarian and Czech counterparts in Jerusalem - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.01.2022
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The long corruption trial of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could soon draw to a close - not with a conviction, but with a plea deal, according to Friday reports in the Israeli media.
In uncited reports on Israeli television Friday night, there were claims that Netanyahu and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit have been in talks for the Knesset opposition leader to end his trial with a plea deal as early as next week. This, after both men have long postured as willing to fight it out to the bitter end.
According to the reports, the charge of bribery would be dropped, but Netanyahu would still admit to fraud and breach of trust. This would net him a punishment of 3-6 months in jail, which would then be commuted to community service.

However, the most damaging aspect could be the final condition: Netanyahu will have to agree that his actions carried "moral turpitude", which would ban him from holding public office for seven years' time. At 72 years old, that would mean he couldn't even attempt to seek office again until the year 2028, when he will be 79 years old.

In addition, agreeing to the deal won't mean that parallel charges would be dropped against Arnon Mozes, the publisher of the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, for a deal to give Netanyahu favourable coverage in exchange for suppressing the paper's main rival, Israel Hayom.
For many politicians, 79 might be an age to finally call it quits, but considering Netanyahu's father, Benzion, lived to be 102 and remained socially engaged well into his 90s, even this blow might not be enough to end his career.

Yet, there's wide speculation that a deal for Netanyahu that would remove him from politics could spell the end for the government of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. When the wide-spectrum coalition was pieced together by now-Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in June 2021, one of its biggest uniting factors was a mutual hatred of Netanyahu and a desire to see an end to his 10-year hold on the prime ministership.

Out of power, Netanyahu remains at the head of Likud and has mounted a stormy opposition to Bennett's government in the Knesset, regularly criticising his approach to the US-Iran talks on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal. Netanyahu long opposed the deal and celebrated its demise in 2018, claiming alongside then-US President Donald Trump that Iran was secretly building a nuclear bomb. However, while Bennett has shed none of the fear-mongering, he's so far been willing to give the Vienna talks a chance at success.
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