Netanyahu Says He Won’t Accept Plea Bargain in Trial

YERUSHALAYIM -
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, wearing a face mask, looks at his lawyer while standing inside the courtroom as his corruption trial opens at the Yerushalayim District Court on Sunday. (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pledged Sunday night that he will not agree to a plea bargain in the corruption case against him.

Netanyahu faces bribery, fraud, and breach of trust charges in three different cases. His trial opened on Sunday, garnering massive attention from the local and international media.

In an interview with Channel 20, Netanyahu rejected out of hand the option of a plea bargain. “Under no circumstances will I agree to a plea deal. We aren’t here to make deals, rather to get to the truth,” he said.

Addressing the indictments against him, he said, “The last election was an expression of gross no-confidence against those who set me up. They are unable to defeat me in an election so they do something else. They thought these indictments would be a death blow, but the public is smarter and gave us more votes than ever.”

As for the opening of his trial earlier in the day, Netanyahu said, “I felt I was in one of the more righteous struggles for the Israeli public. A cohort of police officers, prosecutors and leftist journalists set me up.” The prime minister also accused Channel 13 political correspondent Raviv Druker of “obstructing justice and witness-tampering.”

“What will he [Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit] do against Druker?” he asked.

The first hearing in Netanyahu’s trial began on Sunday afternoon at the Yerushalayim District Court.

Netanyahu gave a fiery speech as he arrived outside the court. “I demand: Reveal everything, expose everything. Media representatives, I know why you are here. You want to film me in court as part of the “anyone-but-Bibi” propaganda campaign, which doesn’t stop for even a moment. But me – I want the public to see the whole picture, to know the whole truth.

“Therefore, my first request from the court is full transparency. I ask for everything to be broadcast live. A continuous, uncensored livestream. The public should hear everything, and not via the skewed filter of the prosecution’s court reporters.”

In the interview, Netanayhu explained that he wanted the trial broadcast live, “because I have nothing to hide, I want it all to be revealed.”

The prime minister also called for “the exposure of the shocking document the Justice Ministry sent to the state comptroller in 2017. The same Justice Ministry that in 2019 signed off on the indictment against me sent a document to the comptroller two years prior, concluding that there was no fault in my decisions or actions in the central subject of the indictment.

“You know what’s even more amazing? That under all kinds of pretexts, this document is not reaching me, and it is not reaching you, the public, the citizens of Israel, because it dismantles their case and prevents them from ousting a rightwing prime minister. And that is why I am demanding: Immediately publish the document the Justice Ministry sent to the state comptroller.

“And I am demanding more than that. I am demanding the publication of the protocol of the interrogations where criminal measures were used, including blackmail, to get witnesses to incriminate me with false testimonies.

“I demand the publication of the interrogation in which a witness was brought together with a certain woman at a police facility and threatened, ‘If you don’t give us what we want against Netanyahu, we will destroy your family.'”