Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to proceed with legislation to grant him immunity from prosecution while in office, according to Israel’s Hahadashot news.
According to the report, Netanyahu and his aides have begun briefing Likud MKs and ministers on how to “sell” this new position to the public. Netanyahu is quoted as having said: “Israel’s citizens deserve a full-time prime minister. After I complete my term, I will address my legal affairs. Israel’s citizens knew what my situation was and elected me. If I were thinking of my personal good, I would conduct my trial as prime minister, not as a private citizen, but I realise that that would not be for the good of the state.”
Netanyahu said before the election and during the campaign that he would not try and introduce an amendment to the immunity law. Referencing these statements, Yair Lapid, who is second on the list of the main opposition party Blue and White, said: “Bibi denied, throughout the election campaign, that he would try to pass the immunity law … stop lying. The public elected you when you said that you would prove that you are innocent, not for you to arrange a get-out-of-jail card for yourself.”
Labor MK Itzik Shmul said: “No, Bibi, the decision of the majority does not supersede the rule of law and does not give you early parole, get used to it. This is Israel, not Turkey.”
Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg said Netanyahu is “behaving like the head of a crime organisation with a state in his pocket. With the exception of a horse’s head in the attorney general’s bed, Netanyahu has already gone as far as possible”.
The Attorney General announced in February that would indict the Prime Minister, pending a hearing, for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three separate cases and a hearing is due to take place in July after which the Attorney General will make a final decision whether to proceed to a trial.
Under current law any MK can obtain immunity by a majority vote in the Knesset House Committee and then in the Knesset plenum. The effect of the proposed amendment would be to revert to the law prior to 2005 in which MKs were automatically granted immunity from prosecution. There are also reports that Likud are considering introducing legislation to “override” the Supreme Court’s authority to challenge a Knesset immunity decision.
BICOM published a detailed briefing on the Netanyahu investigations in February.