Netanyahu denies accepting 'moral turpitude' despite rumors of potential plea deal

Netanyahu has publically denied wrongdoing, but a plea deal may be reached before the end of the week.

Updated: January 17, 2022 - 8:35pm

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Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denies that he is ready to admit to wrongdoing as rumors circulate that he is negotiating a potential plea deal with the Israeli attorney general in his corruption trial.

The Likud party leader is on trial after being charged in November 2019 with breach of trust, fraud and bribery. Netanyahu, 72, denies any wrongdoing and in February 2021 pleaded not guilty to all charges.

"Netanyahu decided to go for a deal and accept the attorney general’s bottom line," which is agreeing to moral turpitude, a source close to the former prime minister told Israel's Channel 12, The Times of Israel reports. If Netanyahu agrees to moral turpitude, he would be banned from politics for seven years under Israeli law.

Israel's Channel 13 News reports that Netanyahu will agree, but he has yet to inform Israel Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.

Netanyahu's attorneys tweeted on Monday from his account, stating that the former prime minister did not announce that he is willing to accept moral turpitude.

Some commentators, such as Amichai Stein and Lahav Harkov, were quick to notice that Netanyahu has not denied that he is currently negotiating a plea deal. 

Netanyahu's wife Sara has apparently said before that she is hesitant to accept a plea deal. "The prosecution is toying with us. They’ll show everyone that Bibi is prepared to admit to crimes, and then they’ll drop the deal. Mandelblit cannot be trusted," she reportedly said.

A source involved in the talks told The Associated Press on Sunday that a plea deal would likely be announced later this week, but the details surrounding the deal were unclear.

Channel 12 states that if the deal is too lenient, the Israeli court may not accept it. The Times of Israel states that the plea deal involves dropping the most serious bribery charge and one case completely if Netanyahu admits to breach of trust and fraud in two cases.

Netanyahu reportedly will be sentenced to several months of community service instead of prison time.

Netanyahu tweeted a photo Monday with his family thanking Israelis for "tremendous support and wonderful love in recent days."