Under normal circumstances, the opposition does everything it can to thwart Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s agenda; but on Thursday they were as cooperative as possible, while the PM’s own Likud ally was dragging his feet.
Of course, these are not normal circumstances. Following Netanyahu’s request for parliamentary immunity on Wednesday night, the Blue and White party has been clamoring for the Knesset mechanism for processing the request to be activated, while Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) was reportedly focusing on obstruction.
Though he hasn’t taken a position publicly, there have been indications that he has already decided to postpone the process until after the March election, when a new government can staff the Knesset committees.
Blue and White MK Avi Nissenkorn, who would head the House Committee to review the immunity request, said: “We have wanted for a long time now to form a House Committee and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein opposes it. When the prime minister asks for immunity we should honor that request and hold a discussion on the matter. The Knesset is not a shelter [from prosecution].”
Edelstein’s office said he would decide the matter after meeting the Knesset legal adviser early next week. They were hanging tough:
“Bullying will not work. The Knesset will not be a platform for the election campaign of Blue and White or any other party,” it said in response to accusations that Edelstein was dragging his feet and trying to shield his party leader from criminal charges.
“Blue and White has been heading the Arrangements Committee for two months and hasn’t done anything to form permanent Knesset committees. The public understands that there are only election considerations behind Nissenkorn’s insistence on blowing things up,” Edelstein’s office said.
“There are no, and there will be no Knesset committees during the hiatus,” a Netanyahu associate on Thursday told The Times of Israel.
“Nothing like that has happened in 70 years. Edelstein won’t lend a hand to that, it’s absurd,” the associate added.