Israel Attorney-General to decide within the next few days whether to accept Netanyahu’s plea bargain, or bring her to trial.
Sara and Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.
According to a report published today by the Jerusalem Post, Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit is expected to reach a decision regarding whether or not to bring Mrs. Netyanyahu to trial on charges of fraud. The decision, which was originally supposed to be reached back in April, was postponed due to the uncovering of new evidence brought forward by Nir Hefetz, an advisor to the Netanyahu couple.
Hefetz testified against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the ongoing investigation into possible corruption on the prime minister’s part. However, during Hefetz’s testimony, new evidence regarding Mrs. Netanyahu’s involvement came to the surface.
Mrs. Netanyahu has reportedly been engaging in plea bargain negotiations with the Attorney-General, with the Post reporting that the initiation of the negotiations was done by Mrs. Netanyahu’s lawyers, rather than by the Attorney-General. The Post also reported that the current terms of Mandelblit’s plea bargain offer are no longer open for negotiation, and that Madelblit intents to immediately take Mrs. Netanyahu to trial if she does not accept the bargain.
The alleged terms of Mandelblit’s plea bargain include the payment of up to 359,000 NIS ($100,500), which Mrs. Netanyahu allegedly took from the state of Israel through fraudulent means. Mrs. Netanyahu has previously offered to pay up to 50,000 NIS ($14,000), and the final negotiated sum is expected to lie somewhere in between the two amounts. Mandelblit’s terms also allegedly include an admission of guilt on Mrs. Netanyahu’s part. Such an admission would result in an official criminal record for Mrs. Netanyahu.
Mrs. Netanyahu’s lawyer were reportedly seeking to avoid an admission of guilt, and thus a criminal record, opting to lobby for an admission of public responsibility instead. While such an admission would render Mrs. Netanyahu guilty in the court of public opinion, it would not result in an official criminal conviction.
Mandelblit is expected not to compromise on the issue of admitting guilt, given that a public trial would be far more detrimental to Mrs. Netanyahu’s public image than to Mandelblit’s. Whether Mrs. Netanyahu will accept the plea bargain is not yet known, but sources close to the Netanyahu administration have disclosed to JOL that Mrs. Netanyahu is indeed expected to accept it.