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Netanyahu’s deal

The third case, nicknamed Case 4000 alleges that the former Prime Minister promoted legislation worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the owner of the Israeli telecom giant, Bezeq, in exchange for positive coverage in its Walla news site. The cases, in a word, are as complex as they are damning for a head of government in a volatile swathe of the world. Nudging 80, will Netanyahu live to fight another day?

Statesman News Service | Kolkata |

To wriggle out of a tangled skein of corruption and political ambition, Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is said to be negotiating what they call a “plea deal” which could render him off the political arena for years. In effect, this will result in a jolt for Israeli politics, even pave the way for a leadership change in his Likud party.

It remains open to question whether a deal will militate against a protracted trial over an issue that has gripped the nation for several years, in effect tarnishing his legacy. Predictably, his detractors are against such a deal as it is likely to undermine the law. Their perspective was summed up by the health minister, Nitzan Horowitz, on Sunday ~ “The man who worked to destroy the public’s trust in the foundations of democracy for personal reasons is not eligible for deals”.

Netanyahu’s initiative follows his indictment for casting doubts over Israel’s justice system, alleging that it is biased and is pursuing a witch-hunt against him. Any deal is bound to be challenged in court. This was clear during the demonstrations against the proposed deal outside the attorney-general’s office last weekend. Israel’s former Prime Minister is on trial for fraud, breach of trust and for accepting bribes in three separate cases.

Netanyahu has denied wrongdoing, as most accused do. The ”plea deal’’ is likely to drop the bribery and fraud charges and scrap one case totally. Several factors remain unresolved, not least inclusion of the charge of moral turpitude. Under the law of Israel, this could ban Netanyahu from politics for seven years.

Another issue being discussed is the method of punishment, specifically whether Netanyahu would be forced to render community service under the deal. Including the provision of “moral turpitude” would be a challenge to the former Prime Minister’s pledge to return to lead the country after his 12-year stint was terminated last year by a coalition of ideologically disparate parties with little or nothing in common other than opposition to his leadership of Israel. But Netanyahu, given his remarkable ability to survive repeated attempts at ending his rule, might make a comeback when the ban expires. In the second case, Netanyahu has been accused of orchestrating positive coverage in a major Israeli paper in exchange for promoting legislation that would have harmed the news outlet’s chief rival, a free pro-Netanyahu daily.

The third case, nicknamed Case 4000 alleges that the former Prime Minister promoted legislation worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the owner of the Israeli telecom giant, Bezeq, in exchange for positive coverage in its Walla news site. The cases, in a word, are as complex as they are damning for a head of government in a volatile swathe of the world. Nudging 80, will Netanyahu live to fight another day?