Netanyahu is facing serious charges of bribery and fraud going back several years. At the same time he is moving toward a jury trial, attorneys for him are working behind the scenes to negotiate a plea deal for their client. Among the current discussions, admitting to a charge of “moral turpitude” would ban the Israeli leader, who is 72, from political office for seven years.
David Rubin, a Jewish political analyst and longtime admirer of Netanyahu, says a plea deal typically means both sides in the negotiation are weighing the pros and cons of a trial. For the prosecution, he says, the bribery charge is a big one to prove.
“And there's also the charge of fraud and a couple of other minor charges,” Rubin says. “So, for Netanyahu, it's beneficial he'll be able to have the much more serious charge of bribery removed from the indictment."
Netanyahu is accused of secretly cooperating with an Israeli newspaper in an effort to harm its chief rival. He also stands accused of pushing legislation in the Knesset that benefited the wealthy owner of Bezeq, a telecom company. In exchange for that support, the then-prime minister allegedly enjoyed positive coverage on its news web site, Walla.
Netanyahu has led Israel’s powerful Likud party in the Knesset for 12 years, a record. He stepped down last summer after he was unseated when rivals cobbled together a coalition that supported Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett.
Regarding the current state of U.S.-Israel relations, Rubin says 2021 was a “difficult year” for Israel under President Joe Biden after its people had witnessed Donald Trump boldly and publicly support Israel during his four-year term.
“No question,” Rubin says, “there are a lot of things that Biden has tried to do that have simply been based on reversing with Trump did.”