Sat | May 28, 2022

Netanyahu negotiating plea deal in corruption trial

Published:Sunday | January 16, 2022 | 12:14 PM
Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to right-wing opposition party members, at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem on June 14, 2021. Netanyahu is negotiating a plea deal in his corruption case. A person involved in the negotiations said Sunday, January 16, 2021, that the agreement is likely to be announced in the coming days and could usher Netanyahu off the Israeli political stage for years. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File)

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is negotiating a plea deal in his corruption case, a person involved in the talks said Sunday.

The deal, which could be signed as early as this week, could usher Netanyahu off the Israeli political stage for years, paving the way for a leadership race in his Likud party and shaking up Israeli politics.

Any deal could spare Netanyahu an embarrassing and protracted trial over an issue that has gripped the nation and risks tarnishing his legacy.

Reports of a deal angered critics who said it would undermine the rule of law.

“The man who worked to destroy the public's trust in the foundations of democracy for personal reasons is not eligible for deals,” Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz tweeted.

He was referring to Netanyahu's attempts after he was indicted to cast doubt on Israel's justice system, saying it was biased and pursuing a witch hunt against him.

Demonstrators gathered against the developing deal outside the attorney general's house Saturday evening. Any deal will likely be challenged in court.

A spokesman for Netanyahu declined to comment.

Netanyahu is on trial for fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in three separate cases.

The former premier, now opposition leader, denies wrongdoing.

The person involved in the negotiations said the plea deal would drop the bribery and fraud charges and scrap one case entirely.

The person asked for anonymity because he wasn't authorised to discuss the details of the talks.

He said a plea deal would likely be announced in the coming days.

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