Israeli ex-PM Netanyahu’s cases could be dropped in plea deal

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Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is negotiating a plea deal which could end his corruption trial, a source close to the talks has said.

An agreement could see Mr Netanyahu, 72, plead guilty to reduced charges in return for community service instead of a possible jail term.

Reports say Mr Netanyahu is, however, objecting to accepting a charge which would require him to leave politics.

Israel’s longest serving leader was unseated after elections last year.

He is head of the right-wing Likud, the largest party in the Israeli parliament, and was prime minister for a record 15 years.

In his last five years in office, Mr Netanyahu was dogged by a police investigation into allegations against him, followed by the start of his trial in 2020.

He is accused of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in connection with three separate cases. He denies the charges against him, saying they are politically motivated.

Reports that Mr Netanyahu has been discussing a plea deal with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit emerged in Israeli media in recent days. An unnamed source connected to the talks confirmed the negotiations on Sunday, news agencies said.

Israeli media say Mr Netanyahu has instructed his lawyers to continue the talks despite reported objections of his family to the prospect that he would accept a level of guilt.

Photo – Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. EPA-EFE/ALEX KOLOMOISKY

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