Netanyahu negotiating plea deal: Report

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Israel’s former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pursuing a plea deal in his corruption trial, according to a local media report.

Netanyahu told his defense team to continue negotiations with Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit to reach a deal before the end of the latter’s term at the end of January, Xinhua news agency quoted the report by state-owned Kan TV news as saying on Monday.

Mandelblit’s office and the Justice Ministry have not immediately confirmed the move.

A deal could see Netanyahu plead guilty to reduced charges in exchange for receiving community service instead of a prison sentence in his criminal trial.

According to Kan, there are still major differences between Netanyahu’s lawyers and Mandelblit’s office, mainly over the former leader’s demand to avoid a conviction carrying a “moral turpitude”, which under Israeli law will force him to quit politics for seven years.

Netanyahu, 72, was ousted in June, 2021 by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s cross-partisan coalition government after 12 consecutive years in power.

He is now the opposition leader and the chairman of the right-wing Likud party.

The longest serving Israeli Prime Minister faces charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three separate cases.

Netanyahu has denied all the allegations and claims the trial is part of “a witch hunt”.

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