Israel’s opposition seeks swift end to Netanyahu immunity bid

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on January 5, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 05 January 2020

Israel’s opposition seeks swift end to Netanyahu immunity bid

  • Netanyahu announced his bid for immunity just two months before the March 2 general election

JERUSALEM: The Israeli opposition pushed Sunday for parliament to swiftly address Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s immunity request, potentially speeding up the embattled leader’s appearance in court.
Netanyahu announced his bid for immunity just two months before the March 2 general election, with opponents slamming the move as a ploy to delay legal proceedings.
The current parliament was not expected to address the matter, but members of the centrist Blue and White alliance have sought to kick-start the procedure in order to reject the immunity request before polls.
Their effort to form the parliamentary committee — a necessary initial step — gained the approval Sunday of the Knesset’s legal adviser.
The fact that the parliament was in a transition period was not sufficient grounds “to prevent the house Knesset committee and plenum from discussing and decreeing on immunity requests,” legal adviser Eyal Yinon told Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein.
The request to form the house committee was signed by factions representing 65 lawmakers, which would constitute a majority in favor of denying Netanyahu immunity among the 120 Knesset members.
But the creation of the house committee may be thwarted, as Edelstein is seeking to block the preliminary step of forming an arrangement committee.
The parliamentary speaker, a member of Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party, has requested Yinon’s legal advice on whether he has the authority to do so.
“After receiving the opinion, Edelstein will announce his decision,” his spokesman told AFP.
Blue and White, led by Netanyahu’s main challenger Benny Gantz, warned the speaker to not “quash the sanctity of Israel’s democracy.”
“We call upon him to allow for the establishment of a Knesset committee to discuss Netanyahu’s request for immunity,” a statement from the movement said.
Netanyahu was charged by the attorney general in November with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three separate corruption cases.
The Likud leader denies the allegations and accuses prosecutors and the media of a witch hunt.
A sitting prime minister is only required to step down once convicted and after all avenues of appeal have been exhausted.
Likud and Blue and White were deadlocked in April and September elections, prompting a third national poll within a year.


The Middle East implements measures to combat deadly coronavirus

Updated 25 min 42 sec ago

The Middle East implements measures to combat deadly coronavirus

  • Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it has started an evacuation plan for Bahraini nationals in Iran

DUBAI: Coronavirus has been widely spreading in the Middle East during the past week with Iran recording the highest number of infections and deaths in the region.

Countries in the Middle East are currently taking extraordinary steps to prevent the growing coronavirus outbreak.

00:51 – Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it has started an evacuation plan for Bahraini nationals in Iran including screening and quarantine procedures. The Ministry called on all Bahrainis to register their details by calling: +97317227555

(Developing)