Israel’s Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara announced on Monday that she is uninterested in a proposed mediation process for the corruption trials of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Attorneys for Netanyahu reached out to the attorney general’s office last month, following a proposal by the lawyers of former Bezeq owner, Shaul Elovitch, which stated the case be settled through mediation.
Elovitch is also a defendant in Case 4000, in which Netanyahu is accused of bribery in an alleged deal to help his businesses in return for positive coverage on the Walla! News site.
Last year, several news sites reported that state prosecutors were willing to consider a plea bargain on several of the charges against Netanyahu. Former Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit reportedly had sought a plea deal at the time, which was to be negotiated before he left office.
Mandelblit had demanded that a plea bargain include a clause on “moral turpitude,” which would preclude Netanyahu from continuing in politics, however the prime minister was unwilling to agree to this condition, stating he had no desire to leave politics.
That plea deal did not happen, and Mandelblit left office without making a decision regarding any softening charges or entering mediation for a plea bargain.
Following Monday’s announcement by Baharav-Miara about her lack of interest in a mediation process, Israel’s Kan News reported the attorney-general’s office was mainly concerned that news of mediation would be used by Netanyahu for the purpose of positive political spin. The news outlet reported that her office is now willing to consider mediation.
During conversations between prosecution and defense attorneys, a judge allegedly told the parties that there is no point in criminal mediation.
“If Prime Minister Netanyahu wants a plea bargain, he can go directly to the attorney general with an offer. There is no need for the mediation of a judge,” the judge told the parties.
Mediation is generally performed by a judge who is uninvolved in the trial. That judge works to bring the two sides to a plea bargain, thus ending the case faster.
If the trial continues, the prosecution is expected to finish bringing evidence and witnesses within a year. After that, the defense would begin its work, which could last another year or year and a half, if there are no delays.
Netanyahu is currently engaged in criminal proceedings in three cases: Case 1000 (illegal acceptance of more than $210,000 in gifts); Case 2000 (fraud and breach of trust); and Case 4000 (bribery).
Case 2000, which involves an alleged ‘quid-pro-quo’ deal for positive media coverage from Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes, is expected to resume today following testimony from state witness Ari Herro on Monday/
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.