Netanyahu seeks immunity from prosecution in graft cases

Netanyahu seeks immunity from prosecution in graft cases

Agency News

Jerusalem, Jan 2: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to seek parliamentary immunity from prosecution in three corruption cases.

In a statement on Wednesday, Netanyahu said he would submit his request to the Speaker of the Parliament Yuli Edelstein in order to "continue to serve you for the sake of the future of the State of Israel".

He submitted the request only four hours before the midnight deadline on Wednesday, BBC reported. The request could delay the cases against Netanyahu and secure him several more months at the office, enabling him to run for another term in the national elections on March 2.

In November, the prime minister was charged by the attorney general with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three separate cases. Mr Netanyahu, who denies wrongdoing, would need the support of more than half of MPs for immunity to be granted.

Benny Gantz, chairman of the Blue and White party, Netanyahu's main rival, said his party would do anything possible to prevent the immunity. "I never imagined that we would see the day that the prime minister of Israel would avoid standing before the law and the justice system," he said.

Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the right-wing Israel Our Home party, also denounced the move, saying that Netanyahu "has been only interested in his immunity and took the State of Israel as his hostage."

Meanwhile, the Knesset Speaker, Yuli Edelstein, who is a member of Netanyahu's Likud party, said he would hold talks on the matter next week.

Israel's political system has been paralyzed over the past year amid two rounds of national elections that failed to yield conclusive results. (UNI)