Israel discusses possible end of Netanyahu trial

Status: 01/18/2022 02:36 am

The bribery trial against former Israeli Prime Minister Netanyhu could soon come to an end. But a deal would shatter Netanyahu’s hopes of a comeback. A majority of Israelis reject a deal.

By Tim Aßmann, ARD Studio Tel Aviv

Does he take the deal or not take it? How will Benjamin Netanyahu decide and what say will his wife and sons have? Israel’s media has been speculating happily to happily for days, and once again the inner workings of the Netanyahu family are occupying the country – even if the senior hasn’t been prime minister since the summer.

Tim Assmann
ARD-Studio Tel Aviv

In addition to his work as chairman of the national-conservative Likud party and leader of the opposition, the 72-year-old is currently primarily one thing: the accused. Netanyahu is on trial in Jerusalem for allegedly accepting illegal luxury gifts and granting advantages to a media entrepreneur in return for positive reporting.

Defenders negotiate deal

The corruption trial against him could take years, but now there may be an end in sight. Netanyahu’s defense lawyers have apparently negotiated a possible deal with the prosecutor. According to media reports, the allegation of bribery would be dropped. Netanyahu would have to agree to a felony conviction and do community service. He shouldn’t have to go to jail.

The former President of the Israeli Constitutional Court, Aharon Barak, said of the negotiations on the deal on radio station KAN: “With this agreement, Netanyahu’s accusation that he is being unjustly persecuted would be defused. Because he would admit: Yes, I admit that I am responsible for that I am responsible for what I am accused of.”

Deal would end hopes of political comeback

Netanyahu has so far asserted that there is nothing to the allegations and that the charges against him are a conspiracy by the judiciary and the media. According to reports, if he accepts the deal, he would have to officially admit moral wrongdoing. This would mean a seven-year ban from political office – it would mean the end of Netanyahu’s hopes of a political comeback. This price is probably too high for the ex-prime minister, his former lawyer Mika Patman told Kan.

I don’t think there will be a deal because Netanyahu doesn’t think like a defendant, he thinks like a politician. He cares about his political future, and he’s right about that. On the other hand, a defendant who is accused of bribery and who has the opportunity to get away with infidelity and a short community service would see a dream deal in this offer.

Netanyahu doesn’t have much time to think. Israel’s Attorney General Mandelblit is only in office until the end of the month, and after that the offer to Netanyahu is off the table. He probably won’t get a better deal.

Majority of Israelis against a deal

Critics see the offer to the accused Netanyahu as a buckling of the judiciary. In a survey, a majority of the Israelis questioned reject an end to the process through a deal. Netanyahu’s supporters want their idol to continue fighting in court and are collecting money online for possible legal costs – even if the politician, who is still active, is legally prohibited from accepting such donations.

Netanyahu thanked his fans via Twitter with a heart. He left it open how he would decide. His successor at the helm, Naftali Bennett, may be hoping Netanyahu won’t accept the deal. If the ex-prime minister no longer poses a political threat as a result of the ban on offices, it could be that Israel’s party landscape will be rearranged and Naftali Bennett’s governing coalition will fall apart.

When asked about this, Bennett tried to calm him down. “The political commentators out there, with all their analyses, can rest easy. The government of Israel is working and it will continue to do its job well and calmly every day.” In fact, however, a legally enforced political farewell to Netanyahu would most certainly result in a political reorganization in Israel.

Leave a Comment