No plea to quit politics: Ex-Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu amid trial

Former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied on Monday that he had reached an agreement with prosecutors that would force him to leave politics.

No plea to quit politics: Ex-Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu amid trial

The trial of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to last several months (Photo: Reuters)

Israel’s former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday denied reports he had reached a deal with prosecutors that would force him to leave politics, and vowed to remain the leader of his Likud party.

Netanyahu, who served as prime minister from 2009 to last year, is facing trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust, charges he denies.

His legal team is negotiating a plea deal with Israel’s attorney general, which, according to Israeli media reports, would involve entering into a crime of “moral turpitude,” which would have entailed a mandatory seven-year ban from politics.

Netanyahu said in a statement, “In recent days, false claims have been published in the media about things I allegedly agreed to, for example the claim that I agreed to moral turpitude. This is almost certainly false.”

“I will continue to lead Likud,” he added in comments that could quell speculation about his more likely exit from the political platform.

Netanyahu, currently the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, is accused of accepting unfair gifts and trading regulatory favors with media moguls in exchange for favorable coverage.

His trial is expected to last for several more months. An appeals process, if necessary, can take years.

The coalition government that ousted him in June, led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, was largely forged through general opposition to Netanyahu among a group of ideologically divergent parties.

Political experts have said Netanyahu’s departure from politics, and the election of a less controversial leader of the right-wing Likud, could spell trouble for the coalition, as it struggles to stay together in the absence of its main unifying power.

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