Netanyahu requests parliamentary immunity from criminal charges

January 2, 2020 by Arye Green -TPS
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday evening announced that he plans to request parliamentary immunity from the Knesset regarding the criminal charges he faces and will notify the Knesset Speaker of his request before the deadline at midnight.

Photo: Yehonatan Valtser/TPS

Netanyahu said he has no plans to change any law or promote any legislation that would grant him greater immunity than Israeli law already provides. He explained that when he was previously asked about immunity, and he said he would not pursue an Immunity law, he was truthful, as he is not seeking further legislation.

Netanyahu emphasized that the immunity is temporary and expires at the end of the current Knesset’s term, in March.

“Immunity is always temporary, it ends when the term of the Knesset who granted it ends. According to the law, no one has the opportunity to escape prosecution. That’s why when I was asked by Channel 12 News ‘Will you promote legislation or some procedure to prevent standing trial,’ I said ‘Of course not,’” Netanyahu explained.

Netanyahu is unlikely to receive immunity from the Knesset, but his request may postpone his legal proceedings significantly.  A Knesset House Committee must consider his immunity request. However, since Knesset committees are only appointed after a government is formed, no committee can currently consider the request.

The Knesset Arrangements Committee will meet on Thursday to consider appointing a temporary House Committee to discuss the request. It is unclear whether such a move would have a majority.

Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman announced that his party would not support immunity for Netanyahu.

“Now it is clear beyond doubt. The only thing that has interested and interests Netanyahu is immunity. The State of Israel will not be a hostage to Netanyahu’s personal issues. He doesn’t care about left or right, religious or secular. The only thing that concerns him is a coalition for immunity,” Liberman wrote on Facebook after Netanyahu’s announcement.

Netanyahu’s main political rival, Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz, said the prime minister’s immunity request shows Netanyahu knows he is guilty.

“I never thought I would live to see a prime minister attempt to escape prosecution. One who believes there will be nothing because there is nothing, would not avoid trial. It is either the kingdom of Netanyahu or the State of Israel,” Gantz charged.

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