Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday he would seek parliamentary immunity from prosecution in the three corruption cases he faces, a move that could delay criminal proceedings against him for months.
Netanyahu was indicted in November on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust over allegations that he granted state favors worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Israeli media barons in return for gifts and favorable coverage.
— Richard Hardigan (@RichardHardigan) January 1, 2020
He denies any wrongdoing, saying he is the victim of a witch-hunt by the media and left to remove a popular right-wing leader.
A trial cannot begin once an immunity request is made, and Netanyahu announced the politically risky move in a speech on live television just four hours before a deadline for an application was to expire.
Benjamin Netanyahu will seek immunity from parliament, the Israeli Prime Minister said in a speech on live television just hours before the expiry of a deadline which could have set legal proceedings against him in motion https://t.co/YFkNDYRUN1 pic.twitter.com/bLJtsrXMau
— Reuters (@Reuters) January 2, 2020
Normally, a request for immunity would need to be approved by a parliamentary committee and then submitted to a full vote. But the committee charged with handling such matters does not exist because a government was never formed after September’s election.
The attorney general cannot file the indictment until the question of immunity is settled, delaying any court proceedings.
— Ruptly (@Ruptly) January 2, 2020
Amid the deep political deadlock, Parliament seems unlikely to decide the issue before Israel’s March 2 election.
(Al Jazeera, PC, Social Media)