Gantz charges: ‘Netanyahu knows he is guilty,’ after PM requests immunity

“Blue and White under my leadership will do everything to prevent the granting of immunity to someone accused of criminal activity,” Gantz added.

By World Israel News Staff 

Following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement on Wednesday night that he would request parliamentary immunity to stave off going on trial to face allegations of corruption, opposition MKs were jockeying for position to speak out on whether they would allow the Knesset to grant the request.

The Knesset House Committee is the parliamentary panel that reviews such requests, but due to the fact that the Knesset has remained only partially functional for months due to the lack of a new governing coalition, there currently is no House Committee.

“The Knesset’s legal counsel has ruled that if the House Committee has not been formed, a hearing on granting of immunity cannot be held. Nevertheless, there is no legal ban on establishing the House Committee today, by the lame-duck Knesset, if a majority on the Knesset Arrangements Committee decides to do so,” writes the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) in a position paper on the matter.

“The law requires the Knesset to deal with immunity requests as soon as possible,” adds IDI. “This might be interpreted to mean that the Knesset is obligated to establish the House Committee now and consider an immunity request without delay,” says the institute.

MK Avigdor Liberman, the kingmaker in Israel over the past several months with the ability of his Israel Beiteinu party to make or break the formation of a new government, declared after Netanyahu’s announcement that his party would not be a part of an “immunity coalition.”

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Referring to the prime minister, Liberman charged that “all he cares about is immunity.”

Netanyahu’s chief rival, the Blue and White faction headed by MK Benny Gantz, also sharply criticized the prime minister. Following Netanyahu’s live televised announcement on the main evening newscasts, Gantz followed with his own live statement, asserting that “Netanyahu knows that he is guilty.”

The prime minister is accused of corruption in three different cases, including one in which he is alleged to have been involved in bribery.

“Blue and White under my leadership will do everything to prevent the granting of immunity to someone accused of criminal activity,” Gantz added.

Observers had assessed earlier on Wednesday that had Netanyahu decided not to request immunity, the state would have gone to court as soon as Thursday to issue the indictments.

Former cabinet minister Limor Livnat of Netanyahu’s Likud party called on party members Thursday, in an interview with Kan public radio, to stop backing the prime minister “blindly” and said that she was not sure whether to vote for the Likud in the March 2 Knesset election.