Report: Netanyahu Considering Dropping Immunity Request

YERUSHALAYIM -
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. (Tsafrir Abayov/Pool via Reuters)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is unlikely to appear before a committee that will consider his request for parliamentary immunity on the corruption charges he is set to be indicted on – and his attorneys may not appear either, a report on Channel 12 said. Netanyahu is considering canceling his request altogether, the report said.

The committee is set to be chosen next week, when the Knesset reconvenes to discuss the matter. While the rightwing/chareidi bloc remains solidly behind Netanyahu, the committee chosen is likely to be skewed against the prime minister, as the majority of MKs, including Yisrael Beytenu, will be voting for a committee that is set to deny the request.

Likud members are likely to skip the session altogether. A plan for all 55 members of the rightwing/chareidi bloc to boycott the session is being organized by Likud whip MK Miki Zohar, with the intention of showing that the discussion is a foregone conclusion – with the committee chosen certain to reject Netanyahu’s request for immunity. The committee will be chosen with support of the United Arab List – more evidence, Likud sources said, that Blue and White will be beholden to them if they form the next government.

The only Likud MK participating in the session, if the plan takes off, will be Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein, who will chair the Knesset discussion. Edelstein has received a great deal of flak from within the party, with critics of his decision to convene the session accusing him of “playing into the hands of the left” and joining with it to topple Netanyahu. By doing so, Likud sources told Channel 13, Edelstein is “finished” in the party. If the Likud wins the election, “he will no longer be speaker of the Knesset, and he will certainly not be a candidate for president,” an office Edelstein is said to be interested in, the sources said.

If the Likud and Netanyahu do choose to cooperate with the committee, Netanyahu’s attorneys are said to be planning a “blanket” campaign, seeking to call hundreds of witnesses in a long, drawn-out questioning process in order to prolong the hearings until after new elections, when Committee memberships will change, assuming Netanyahu is in a position to form a government, Channel 13 reported.