Israel : Benjamin Netanyahu To Seek Parliamentary Immunity

He made the announcement on Wednesday during a nation-wide address after being charged of corruption.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he would seek parliamentary immunity from prosecution in the three corruption cases he faces. He made the announcement on Wednesday, 1st January 2020 during a speech on television, hours before the expiration of an application deadline.

If accepted, Netanyahu who was indicted in November on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust over allegations that he granted state favours worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Israeli media barons in return for gifts and favourable coverage, could see criminal proceedings against him delayed for months. The announcement has ignited reactions from the political class with his allies issuing a stern warning against what they call an "activist" court overstepping its authority.

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. Amid deep political deadlock, Parliament seems unlikely to decide on the issue before Israel's March 2, 2020 election. Netanyahu will need the support of 61 of its 120 legislators for immunity to be granted, the same majority that eluded him in attempts to form a government after national ballots in April and September. The Likud leader who was re-elected last week, has often accused judicial and law enforcement officials of trying to drive him from office and said only the voting public can choose who will lead the country.

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