Israeli PM: I Want Immunity

Netanyahu plans to approach the speaker of the Knesset and 'fulfill my right' to be PM
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 1, 2020 2:10 PM CST
Israeli PM: I Want Immunity
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem, Israel, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019.   (Abir Sultan /Pool photo via AP)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday he would seek immunity from corruption charges, likely delaying any trial until after March elections, when he hopes to have a majority coalition that will shield him from prosecution, the AP reports. Netanyahu was indicted in November on charges of accepting bribes, fraud, and breach of trust. After failing to assemble a governing majority following back-to-back elections last year, he will get a third shot at remaining in office in March. Wednesday's announcement essentially turns the upcoming election into a referendum on whether Netanyahu should be granted immunity and remain in office, or step down and stand trial. A recent poll indicated that a majority of Israelis oppose giving him immunity.

In a nationally televised address, Netanyahu repeated his assertion that he is the victim of an unfair conspiracy. He also said he would seek to invoke the law that would protect him from prosecution as long as 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. Normally, an immunity request would need to be approved by the parliament’s House Committee and submitted to a full vote. But the House Committee doesn't exist because a government was never formed after September's election. Court proceedings cannot begin until the question of immunity is settled.

(Read more Benjamin Netanyahu stories.)

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