Netanyahu seeks immunity from prosecution in corruption cases

The incumbent announced on Wednesday he will ask for immunity from the Israeli parliament, a request the Knesset will likely not rule on until after a governing coalition is formed following March elections.

By World Israel News and AP

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said he will ask the Knesset to grant him immunity from corruption charges, a step that is expected to delay his trial for months because the parliament cannot issue a decision until a new government is formed.

Netanyahu’s announcement means that any trial would be put on hold until after elections in March, when he hopes to win a majority coalition that would rule favorably on the immunity request, shielding him from prosecution.

For all intents and purposes, the request in and of itself means that parliament won’t address the matter until after March elections, because the current caretaker government is not empowered to make a decision on granting Netanyahu immunity.

In order to debate the matter, the caretaker parliament would have to appoint a special committee to study the request, which is highly unlikely without a functioning coalition.

Netanyahu was indicted in November on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

The past two rounds of elections in Israel have failed to produce a government, as neither Netanyahu nor his rivals in the Blue and White party have been able to assemble a majority coalition.

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Netanyahu now will take a third shot at holding onto office in March.

In the nationally televised address in which Netanyahu announced he will seek immunity, the incumbent repeated his assertion that he is the victim of an unfair conspiracy and that he seeks to invoke a law that would protect him from prosecution while he remains in office.

“In order to continue to lead Israel to great achievements, I intend to approach the speaker of the Knesset in accordance with chapter 4C of the law, in order to fulfill my right, my duty and my mission to continue to serve you for the future of Israel,” he said.