Likud: Knesset legal adviser tainted, married to lawyer who built case against Netanyahu

The party charges that the Knesset legal adviser’s ruling is tainted by a conflict of interests.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Knesset’s legal adviser denied Monday that his decision to allow the Knesset’s House Committee to form to deal over the prime minister’s request for immunity was a case of a conflict of interests, as the Likud has charged.

During a transition government, most parliamentary committees don’t meet, including the one that would make a judgment on whether to grant immunity to one of its members.

Knesset legal adviser Eyal Yinon said on Sunday that since the formulators of the Immunity Law declared that immunity requests should be heard as soon as possible, this meant that the House Committee should be formed even in these extraordinary circumstances.

Angered by the legal ruling, the Likud charged Monday that Yinon’s action was a “severe case of conflict of interest that rises to the level of suspected criminal activity.” The party based its complaint on the fact that Yinon’s wife, Amit Marari, is a lawyer who works for Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and has dealt with Netanyahu’s cases.

Israel Hayom revealed that Marari had signed a document in 2017 which stated that “In accordance with a conflict of interest settlement agreement signed by Attorney Yinon, he will not be involved in matters that I am dealing with.”

Yinon’s ruling, says the party, contravenes this agreement, and he should therefore annul it.

“He has pledged not to deal directly or indirectly with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s affairs,” but contradicted himself by ruling as he did on Sunday, the Likud said.

Yinon defended himself by saying that he had merely ruled on “internal procedural matters of the Knesset.” He would remove himself from any question having to do with the immunity issue itself, he said, in accordance with the law.

He also attacked his accusers, saying that other procedural decisions he made in the past that were in some way linked to immunity requests never led to charges of a conflict of interests. That only this one did “is a cynical and artificial issue designed to threaten the Knesset legal adviser,” he said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had submitted the request for immunity from prosecution on the assumption that the committee could not meet until after a new government is formed. This would have bought him at least three months of legal quiet, as no court case could go forward until such a request was considered by the House Committee members.

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Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein of the Likud has asked Yinon if he has the formal authority to block the formation of the House Committee despite the legal adviser’s ruling. Yinon has yet to respond.