Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is standing trial on various corruption charges, has broken his silence tonight after more than a week of rumors that he was considering a plea bargain.
“In recent days, there were mistaken claims made in the media on things that I allegedly agreed to, such as the claim that I agreed to ‘moral turpitude.’ That is simply not correct,” he said in a video he released tonight.
Netanyahu thanked his “millions” of supporters for their encouragement and vowed to continue as leader of his party.
“I will continue to lead the Likud and the nationalist camp in order to lead the State of Israel, on your behalf,” he said.
This means the former premier's trial will continue.
The reported plea deal would have required Netanyahu to plead guilty to fraud and breach of trust charges. He would have forgone jail time, but would have had to stay out of politics for seven years, according to the offer.
However, Netanyahu has always insisted he is not guilty of any of the crimes for which he has been indicted and has steadfastly maintained there is a political “witch hunt” against him by the legal establishment and the media. He also repeatedly vowed never to cut a plea deal.
Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, who steps down on Feb. 1, has apparently been holding strong to the moral turpitude clause in exchange for a plea – something to which Netanyahu refused to agree.
“I can see why the prosecution and especially the legal adviser to the government, Avichai Mandelblit [would want the deal]. I can see no one take pleasure of putting the prime minister in jail,” political expert and IDC Prof. Chaim Weizmann told ALL ISRAEL NEWS in an interview last week.
If convicted, Netanyahu would not be the first Israeli prime minister who went to jail. Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was sentenced to six years in prison for bribery in 2014.
Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS