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Former state attorney calls potential Netanyahu plea deal ‘shameful’

Eran Shendar says an agreement in former premier’s corruption cases would harm the public, send a ‘terrible message’ to politicians

Attorney Moshe Lador, and former state prosecutor, Eran Shendar (left), on December 17, 2007. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
Attorney Moshe Lador, and former state prosecutor, Eran Shendar (left), on December 17, 2007. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

A former state attorney on Tuesday panned a potential plea deal for former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, amid reports Netanyahu could be nearing an agreement with prosecutors over his corruption trial.

Eran Shendar called a possible deal “really unworthy and unreasonable.”

“From Netanyahu’s perspective, there’s a great interest. In terms of public benefit, it’s shameful,” Shendar said in an interview with the 103FM radio station.

Reports have swirled in recent days claiming Netanyahu was nearing a deal with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.

There are no confirmations of a deal from either side and there are numerous obstacles that could slow or torpedo an agreement. So far, the main reported stumbling block to reaching a deal has been the “moral turpitude” clause, which would bar Netanyahu from political life for seven years.

Netanyahu is on trial in three separate graft cases: for fraud and breach of trust in Case 1000 and in Case 2000, and for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in Case 4000.

Shendar said the talks about the plea deal had been started, apparently by Netanyahu’s side, deliberately at the last minute, just before Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit leaves his post at the end of the month and before the upcoming testimony of state’s witness Shlomo Filber.

Analysts have said that Mandelblit’s successor would have less ability to negotiate a deal as a new attorney general.

Shendar said a plea deal would send the wrong message to politicians.

“In a marathon, the last mile is the hardest, so of course there is burnout, but there is a clear message here — every top politician will know that if he’s charged with a crime, the more he harms the law enforcement system or the media, the better it will turn out for him. That’s a terrible message.”

Shendar said that if a deal goes through, Netanyahu will likely wage a public relations campaign afterward to recast himself as a victim.

Shendar was Israel’s state attorney from 2004 to 2007. He prosecuted former president Moshe Katsav for rape and other charges during his tenure.

Netanyahu denies all allegations against him, and claims the charges were fabricated by a biased police force and state prosecution service, overseen by a weak attorney general, in league with political opponents and the leftist media.

According to reports in recent days, the details of a plea agreement that have already been agreed would include dropping the most serious charge against Netanyahu, for bribery in Case 4000, as well as the entire Case 2000, and seeing the defendant admit to fraud and breach of trust in the two remaining cases, 4000 and 1000.

The sides have reportedly agreed that Netanyahu will not see prison time, and would be sentenced to three to six months of community service.

Monday reports claimed Netanyahu had agreed to Mandelblit’s demand that a plea deal include the “turpitude” clause banning him from public office for seven years.

Following the reports, Netanyahu’s spokesman released a statement that quoted his lawyers saying the former prime minister “has not announced he agrees to moral turpitude.”

Netanyahu himself appeared to downplay rumors that he had decided to sign a plea deal. “Guys, there’s nothing to update you on. If there’s something to update, I’ll update,” a statement quoted him as telling MKs in his Likud party.

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