Netanyahu says he rejected plea deal that would ban him from politics
Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been hoping to reach a plea deal on the corruption charges against him before Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit left office at the end of January, but Mandelblit has reportedly notified Netayahu's lawyers that won't be possible.
Why it matters: The deal Mandelblit and Netanyahu had been discussing would have kept him out of prison but seen him banned from politics for seven years. Netanyahu broke his silence on the plea talks after they collapsed and said he'd never accepted the seven-year ban.
- In a video statement, Netanyahu resumed his attacks on the police and prosecution and claimed the case against him was collapsing and should already have been dismissed.
- In a nod to the intra-party fight that had begun over his potential replacement if he took the deal, Netanyahu said he'd stay on as leader of the Likud party and of the opposition.
What's next: The plea deal is not totally dead but will be frozen for now. The highest-profile case in recent Israeli political history will now pass to the next attorney general, who has yet to be named.
- Meanwhile several key witnesses are expected to appear in court in the coming weeks. If they offer damaging testimony it could make a plea deal harder to reach.