Israeli PM Pledges Netanyahu's Possible Plea Deal Will Not Bring Down Coalition Government
17:50 GMT 16.01.2022 (Updated: 17:25 GMT 15.01.2023)
According to media reports, the plea deal might see Netanyahu removed from political life for years. The present broad ruling coalition, in turn, assembled on condition of not joining the Likud Party as long as the former prime minister leads it.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has given his assurance that predictions made by "various political commentators" - that the governing coalition will fall if Benjamin Netanyahu signs a plea deal - are unsubstantiated and will not come to fruition.
"Our government is not pointing out problems, it’s working to fix them […] rest assured, the government of Israel is working and continuing to work quietly and effectively day after day for the citizens of Israel."
Grim scenarios from political analysts for the coalition are based on the uncertainty about the loyalty of its members. The coalition led by Bennett encompasses parties from both ends of the political spectrum, who united in 2021 with the goal of ousting political veteran Netanyahu from power.
The coalition, however, was also cemented by a pledge made by right-wing parties not to team up with their natural ally, Likud, for as long as it was led by Netanyahu. The latter, however, might soon lose his post – several media reports suggested lately that the former prime minister is mulling signing a plea deal with Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit that would end his prosecution on several criminal charges and will see him banned from political life for seven years.
According to a report by Channel 12, the deal has been on the table for nearly two years, but previously Netanyahu rejected it because it includes a conviction of "moral turpitude", which would lead to the ban from politics. With reports about his possible departure from politics, some of the allies in Bennett's coalition have already started to speculate on their future political plans that might include Likud – the party that won most seats in the last general election.
14 January 2022, 23:47 GMT
The lawmaker from the New Hope party, Sharren Haskel, noted that "if Netanyahu goes, everything is possible". Likud could secure dominance in the Knesset (parliament) with the help of traditional allies from ultra-conservative parties, should any right-wing force from the ruling coalition join it. Such a move would also undermine the present government and prompt the formation of a new government.
Netanyahu has not commented on reports that he is considering signing a plea deal, which will also require the approval of an Israeli court. Anonymous sources close to the former prime minister claimed in an interview with Channel 12 that Netanyahu and his attorneys are indicating that they back the plea deal.