Netanyahu's supporters demonstrate outside of trial
Netanyahu's supporters demonstrate outside of trialYonatan Sindel/Flash90

With speculation rife as to whether former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will sign a plea bargain with Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit and retire from political life, strategist Ronny Rimon, who has advised the former premier in the past, weighed in on the debate.

“Netanyahu has come to the conclusion that he won’t succeed in becoming prime minister again,” Rimon asserts. “He tried over and over, for successive election cycles, but he just couldn’t manage to form a government, and now that he has realized that his political career has come to an end, he’s most likely going to agree to a plea bargain so that he can limit the fallout from his legal cases.”

Asked if such a plea bargain would impact on Netanyahu’s political legacy – will he still have schools and public squares named after him if he ends up a convicted criminal? – Rimon admits that a plea bargain is not the ideal scenario. “It’s all a question of which options are open to him,” he says. “This clearly isn’t a good option and maybe not a just one either, but we all know that trusting in the legal system does not lead to either truth or justice.” In such a situation, Rimon says, many people prefer to opt for a plea bargain in order to prevent the courts from being able to seal their fate.

Rimon adds that the fact that Mandelblit will shortly conclude his tenure as Attorney-General is another factor in favor of a plea bargain for both sides. “The end of Mandelblit’s tenure is an opportunity to end this saga,” he says, “and I think Mandelblit has his own reasons why he prefers to go for a plea bargain – one of which is that he sees the chances of Netanyahu being convicted on the bribery charge diminishing as time goes by. Mandelblit doesn’t want to be defeated in court, so he’s made his own calculations. Each side wants to ensure a measure of victory and cut its losses, without taking unnecessary risks.”

Asked whether he, personally, would advise Netanyahu to take such a course of action, Rimon has no doubt that he would. “Yes, definitely, because the main issue at question now is that of admitting moral turpitude, and if he admits to that, he cannot serve as prime minister for the next seven years – until the age of eighty. Which means that if he agrees to a plea bargain, Netanyahu is essentially forgoing something that he doesn’t have in any case.

“There were others in the past who insisted that they would prove their version of the truth in court, and in the end, they ended up losing big time,” Rimon adds. “The obvious example of someone who made that choice is former President Moshe Katzav, who could have gotten off with no penalty whatsoever and ended up sentenced to seven years in prison. People don’t like taking risks, and in Netanyahu’s case, the risk of being sentenced to prison is considerable, whereas the chances that he will become prime minister again are somewhere between minimal and zero. That’s why I would advise him to take the offer of a plea bargain,” he concludes.