UPDATE ON NETANYAHU’S CRIMINAL CHARGES – PART 2

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January 24, 2022

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Having traveled and worked in the Middle East since l968, Robert L. Wise has journeyed through the region, giving him insights from behind the scenes. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon. Each week he attempts to present an objective view of current events.

UPDATE ON NETANYAHU’S CRIMINAL CHARGES

PART 2

Last week I updated viewers on the criminal indictments facing former Prime Minister Netanyahu. A number of readers wanted to know more. In the past week, the negotiations have continued with Netanyahu’s legal team trying to keep him out of jail. Here’s where things stand today.

Deputy State Attorney Shlomo Lamberger said Thursday it would be “inconceivable” for a plea deal with opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu not to include a clause of “moral turpitude” — which would bar the former prime minister from public office for seven years.

“Anyone who understands moral turpitude understands that with such acts (criminal behavior)  it is inconceivable there isn’t moral turpitude,” Lamberger told the Israel Bar Association, in reference to the charges against Netanyahu in his graft trial. The comments were the first public remarks by a senior justice official about the prospect of a plea deal in Netanyahu’s trial, rumors of which have been swirling in recent days.

According to a television report Thursday, there has been no contact between Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and Netanyahu’s lawyers since a Wednesday phone call, with talks on a potential plea bargain appearing to have stalled. Sources in Israel claim both sides now believe that there will not be an agreement before Mandelblit steps down as attorney general at the end of the month.

The reports have listed Mandelblit’s conditions for an agreement as follows: Netanyahu admits to fraud and breach of trust in cases 1000 and 4000; he accepts the designation of moral turpitude; he will be sentenced to seven to nine months of community service; and he admits to having instructed former Communications Ministry director Shlomo Filber to provide benefits to the controlling shareholder of the Bezeq media company, Shaul Elovitch — the main accusation against the former premier in case 4000.

Netanyahu is on trial in three separate graft cases: for fraud and breach of trust in Case 1000 and in Case 2000, and for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in Case 4000. Under the reported potential deal, the bribery charge in Case 4000 would be dropped, and Case 2000 would be closed altogether.

According to the Israeli media, Mandelblit had moved away from an earlier idea of allowing the trial judges to rule on the question of the moral turpitude clause, rather than having it be an integral part of the deal, and wants it to be agreed to upfront. Netanyahu has been reported to be wary of doing so in case the negotiations subsequently break down.

That’s where we are today. Let’s see what comes next.

Stay tuned!

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Filed under Elections, Israel, Netanyahu, The Middle East

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