Three years after the filing of four indictments against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and with the trial still not at the halfway mark, in late March, News 12’s Ilana Dayan reported that the parties are considering going to criminal mediation in Case 4000. This one out of three criminal indictments, accuses Netanyahu of promising regulatory changes favorable to the business interests of Shaul Elovitch, the owner of the communication conglomerate Bezeq, in exchange for positive coverage of Netanyahu and his family by Elovitch’s news website, Walla.
On Sunday, Reshet Bet radio reported that AG Gali Baharav-Miara rejected the mediation, which puts in question the notion that the request had come from the prosecution.
I reported that the mediation was endorsed by at least one of the three-judge panel, Judge Oded Shaham, which was his way of signaling to the prosecution that their case against the PM––after two years of the trial which hasn’t even reached its half-way mark––is not overwhelming.
But according to Reshet Bet, after Netanyahu’s attorneys had been told the AG was not interested in a mediation (she told her staff that if Netanyahu wants to offer a plea, he should offer a plea), the same attorneys kept asking AG Baharav-Miara for a meeting so they could persuade her to enter mediation, and she ignored them for two weeks. She didn’t pick up the phone.
In an Interview Netanyahu gave the right-leaning Channel 14, he claimed the call for mediation was initialed by Elovitch’s attorneys, and that he, Netanyahu, only gave it the green light. He also said, “We’re not discussing a plea.”
As I wrote at the time, AG Baharav-Miara has no incentive to interrupt the trial that provides the opposition with most of its firepower against Netanyahu, and having been appointed by former Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, currently just an opposition MK, who hates Netanyahu more than even Avigdor Liberman does––which says a lot––has no incentive to compromise when things are looking pretty good for her political patron.
Netanyahu also has no incentive to stop his trial: why should he enter a plea when he can continue to serve as prime minister for the duration of the trial––which, together with the post-trial petitions, should last through 2028? That could mean two whole terms as PM for Netanyahu. And just like his enemies on the left, Netanyahu, too, is only gaining popularity from his trial, which he and the Likud say had been “tailored” to take him down.
This also explains why Netanyahu is refusing demands from his own party and from coalition partners to fire the AG. She is more useful to him, regardless of all the difficulties she is causing, than a new AG. This new AG wouldn’t have to be pro-Netanyahu to be rational, and would most likely call for an end to the trial, possibly necessitating some kind of a plea bargain. Neither the Bibi nor the “anyone but Bibi” camps are interested.