The Knesset’s legal adviser on Sunday gave a green light for the establishment of a special committee that would examine Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request to receive immunity from prosecution.
Netanyahu last Wednesday filed an official request to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein to receive parliamentary immunity from prosecution in the three graft cases against him, mere hours before the deadline to file such a request expired. He is charged with fraud, bribery and breach of trust.
Eyal Inon published his legal opinion on the possibility of forming a committee that would vote on Netanyahu's request, stating it can only be formed ahead of the March 2 election and not following the vote, as the prime minister hoped it would happen.
"Despite the various difficulties that arise in conducting immunity hearings during the Knesset’s election hiatus, and despite the precedent it may set, I have stated that it doesn’t prevent the Knesset’s committee and the Knesset plenum from discussing immunity at this point in time," the legal adviser wrote in his legal opinion.
Inon added he is in favor of forming the committee as long as the hearings don’t begin “just days before the election date.”
Likud MK Shlomo Karai slammed the legal adviser for deciding to form the committee ahead of the election, calling his decision “forced and unfounded.”
“The immunity procedure is a quasi-judicial process,” he said. “When it is held during an election period, the petitioner’s right - to try and persuade committee members from the opposing political parties to support him - has effectively been denied.”
“Does anyone really believe that an MK from Blue and White for instance, will allow himself to vote for immunity, or even abstain, during election campaign?”
The Knesset Committee is the only government committee that can examine a request for parliamentary immunity. It is estimated that if the committee is set up ahead of the election with its current makeup, the majority of MKs on panel will reject Netanyahu's request.
Yisrael Beytenu Chairman Avigdor Liberman has already said that members of his party will oppose the request for immunity.