Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu leaves his attorney's home in Ramat Gan after a round of consultations on whether to pursue a plea deal in his corruption trial, January 16, 2021

Netanyahu reportedly gives attorneys green light to press on with plea deal talks

Former prime minister, defense team deny he agreed to be convicted in his graft trial with a 'moral turpitude' clause that would force him out of public life for years

Tova Zimuky |
Updated: 01.17.22, 21:08
Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu has given his defense team a green light to keep pursuing a plea deal in his corruption trial, Ynet has learned Monday evening.
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  • Netanyahu has pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery, breach of trust and fraud in three cases for which he was indicted in 2019 and accused prosecutors of a politically motivated witch-hunt. His trial, which began last year, is being conducted at the Jerusalem District Court.
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    משפחת נתניהו בפגישה אצל הסנגור בעז בן צור
    משפחת נתניהו בפגישה אצל הסנגור בעז בן צור
    Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu leaves his attorney's home in Ramat Gan after a round of consultations on whether to pursue a plea deal in his corruption trial, January 16, 2021
    (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
    The decision comes after Netanyahu, his wife and two sons met with his defense attorney on Sunday for a feverish round of consultations on whether to continue negotiations over the terms of a plea bargain offered by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.
    A source briefed on the matter said that under the proposed deal, Netanyahu would plead guilty to reduced charges and have any resulting jail term commuted to community service.
    But the talks have hit a bump over Netanyahu's demand to be spared a conviction carrying a moral turpitude clause, which under Israeli law would force him to quit politics for years.
    This latest round of negotiations comes as Mandelblit — who filed the indictment against Netanyahu — approaches the end of his term, which is set to conclude at the end of January. He is said to aim to bring a close to one of the most volatile legal sagas in Israel's history and leave a clean slate for his successor.
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    אביחי מנדלבליט
    אביחי מנדלבליט
    Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit
    (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
    Sources close to the former prime minister said that differences between the parties could be bridged soon with goodwill.
    Netanyahu's attorneys later said that was still undecided on whether to accept a "moral turpitude" clause.
    Arriving for a Knesset vote Wednesday evening, Netanyahu himself told members of his Likud Party that he has yet to reach a decision on the matter.
    Sources close to the negotiations said earlier Monday that the former prime minister had instructed his attorneys to advance talks toward the possible signing of a plea deal, but did not specify whether he was willing to accept a "moral turpitude" clause.
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    נתניהו ואהרן ברק בלשכת נשיא העליון
    נתניהו ואהרן ברק בלשכת נשיא העליון
    Netanyahu and then-Supreme Court chief justice Aharon Barak
    (Photo: GPO)
    The idea of a plea bargain was promoted by a former Supreme Court president, Aharon Barak — reportedly at Netanyahu's request.
    He told public broadcaster Kan radio it would ease the pressure on the justice system, which has spent years defending itself against allegations from Netanyahu loyalists that he was being denied due process.

    Reuters contributed to this story.
    First published: 19:28, 01.17.22
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