Hundreds of people protested on Saturday night in front of the home of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit in Petah Tikva against the prospect of a plea deal for former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the three cases against him.
The demonstration was organized by protest movements “Inquiry Now” and “Crime Minister.” The protesters called to “investigate the AG” and called Mandelblit “The Netanyahu family consigliere.” MKs Michal Rosin and Mossi Raz of Meretz attended the demonstration.
One of the most prominent activists in the anti-Netanyahu protests, Amir Haskel, said at the demonstration that due to the Attorney General’s close relations with the former Prime Minister, “he cannot, ethically and morally, sign a plea deal with Netanyahu.”
According to Haskel, “Netanyahu claimed stridently that these were ‘fake cases.’ We, the public, have a right to know if this is bribery or a setup.”
Concurrently, several dozens protested on Saturday night at the Schuster Center in Tel Aviv, near the home of Foreign Minister and Alternate PM Yair Lapid, demanding the establishment of a national inquiry commission into the submarine affair.
Reports over the weekend say the government is expected to vote to establish the commission on Sunday. The proposal is expected to gain a majority among the ministers, at the time of this writing it is yet unknown whether PM Naftali Bennett will support the motion.
The demonstration in Tel Aviv, organized by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, was attended by former senior figures in the security establishment, including IDF chiefs of staff, Mossad and Shin Bet chiefs, and IDF generals.
The protesters called upon the ministers to immediately discuss the proposal to establish the inquiry commission, which has been on the government’s desk for over two months. “No more excuses, it’s your duty.” they called.
In recent weeks, Netanyahu’s attorney Boaz Ben Tzur has been holding talks with the prosecution about a plea deal, as those surrounding the opposition leader saw the end of Mandelblit’s term in office as an opportunity to bring the affair to a close. The parties agreed that the move is desirable from a public point of view as well, due to the reverberations of the case.
The Attorney General notified Ben Tzur that he will only agree to a deal stipulating that Netanyahu’s actions are attained by moral turpitude – which means banishing Netanyahu from public life for seven years.
In addition, Mandelblit clarified that another condition for a deal is Netanyahu’s confession to crimes of governmental corruption.
According to sources, Netanyahu expressed willingness in principle to plead guilty in case 1000 (the gifts and benefits) and case 4000 (Bezeq-Walla.) In return, case 2000 (Netanyahu-Mozes) will be closed, and the bribery charge from case 4000 will be removed. Although not required for a plea deal, the parties wish to reach an agreement on the punishment as well, an issue still disputed between them. The Attorney General is reportedly demanding of Ben Tzur that the punishment include work release, to which Netanyahu, at this point, will not consent.
Another point of contention is the demand that Netanyahu retire from Knesset and the date by which he must fulfill this commitment. The prosecution fears that should Netanyahu fail to abide by his commitment before sentencing, they will have no legal remedy to terminate his Knesset membership. For this reason they insist on imposing moral turpitude upon him. This consideration also guided the prosecution in negotiating the plea deal with Ariye Deri.
According to a Saturday report on Walla, Netanyahu turned to former President of the Supreme Court, Aharon Barak, and enlisted him to mediate between himself and the Attorney General, in an attempt to reach a plea deal in his trial.
In an interview to YNET, Barak confirmed that he acceded to Netanyahu’s appeal and mediated between him and Avichai Mandelblit. “I couldn’t remain indifferent,” said Barak, adding: “Netanyahu was one of the great defenders of the justice system.”
According to Channel 12 News, Netanyahu and his attorneys support signing the plea deal at this point in time, but the former PM’s family is still split on the matter.
According to the report on Walla, Netanyahu asked Att. Michael Rabilo to approach Barak back in 2019. Rabilo turned to economist Joseph Ciechanover for help on the matter, per the report, conditions were not ripe. The report adds that in 2020, shortly prior to the date Netanyahu was indicted, Rabilo approached Barak directly, and was told to ask Netanyahu’s defense counsel to contact the former Chief Justice. The move did not come to fruition at the time because Netanyahu did not send his attorney to speak with Barak.
Source: Ran Shimoni – HAARETZ