Right-Wing Bloc to Boycott Immunity Selection Hearing

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MK Miki Zohar (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

All 55 members of the right-wing/chareidi bloc will boycott Tuesday’s Knesset session to choose a committee to hear Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s request for parliamentary immunity on the corruption charges he is set to be indicted on, the Likud announced Sunday. Likud whip MK Miki Zohar said in a social media message that “the coalition will not participate in the discussions that will take place. The entire process is being conducted in a forcible and manipulative manner. We will not take part in this process, which is part of Blue and White’s ‘anybody but Netanyahu’ campaign.”

The committee to be chosen Tuesday will be empowered to hear Netanyahu’s appeal for immunity, and it is expected to be weighted with MKs who will not be sympathetic to that objective, as the majority of MKs, including Yisrael Beytenu, will be voting for a committee that is set to deny the request. The Likud has decided that it will not “legitimize” the process by participating in it, Zohar said.

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 flack 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.

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. There has been speculation that Netanyahu will withdraw his request for immunity altogether, and sources in the Likud Sunday told Yisrael Beytenu that “a boycott of the committee would be the first step in rescinding his request.”

Commenting on the decision to boycott the Tuesday meeting, Blue and White said that it was “sad that the transfer government continues to shame the Knesset and the rule of democracy and refuses to allow its members to participate in the immunity hearings. This is a process the coalition started. Netanyahu wanted hearings on immunity – he is going to get them.