Israel's far-right legislator says will end Netanyahu corruption trial

Itamar Ben Gvir says would legislate law grants sitting PM almost complete criminal immunity; co-leader Smotrich, says his proposal to remove breach of trust from criminal code, or Ben Gvir proposals would not apply to Netanyahu criminal trial

Moran Azulay|
In a recording that reached Ynet on Sunday, far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir is heard saying he will demand legislation that would effectively end opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s ongoing corruption trial.
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  • Ben Gvir who was embraced by Netanyahu as a future coalition partner joined in an alliance of factions with with Religious Zionist alliance leader Bezalel Smotrich, who himself laid out his plan for an overhaul of the Israeli judicial system.
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    בנימין נתניהו, איתמר בן גביר
    בנימין נתניהו, איתמר בן גביר
    Itamar Ben Gvir, Benjamin Netanyahu
    (Photo: EPA, Kobi Kuankes)
    Smotrich's plan includes canceling the classification of fraud and breach of trust as crimes - a step that would void most of the charges Netanyahu is facing.
    Although Smotrich, publicly stopped short of saying whether the new law would apply to Netanyahu’s criminal proceedings retroactively, Ben Gvir upped the ante and said last week to supporters that he would pursue a so-called "French Law" which grants a sitting prime minister almost complete criminal immunity retroactively.
    Some lawmakers have floated the idea of introducing a French Law in the past but did not pursue the legislation for fear the Supreme Court would strike it down.
    Ben Gvir, on the other hand, said he believes that "the justices will understand the logic and purpose" behind the legislation and stated that similar laws exist in other countries.
    "The prime minister is also innocent until proven guilty and cannot be removed and overthrown on the whim of an attorney general," he was heard saying in the recording.
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    איתמר בן גביר
    איתמר בן גביר
    Itamar Ben Gvir
    (Photo: Kobi Kuankes)
    His political partner however was quick to claim that the proposed legislations would not be applied to Netanyahu. On Sunday, Smotrich issued a statement claiming the former prime minister's trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust would not be effected.
    "The Netanyahu trial will not be canceled - I promise that I will not promote legislation that will cancel it," Smotrich told Ynet.
    Our legal program is a pre-condition for joining the coalition. We will not be able to do anything without fixing the legal system and returning the power to the representatives of the people in the government and the Knesset," he said.
    "We will not have a situation in which the prosecution can trump up criminal cases against elected officials in order to remove them from politics and prevent the right wing from assuming power," he said.
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    בצלאל סמוטריץ באולפן ynet
    בצלאל סמוטריץ באולפן ynet
    Bezalel Smotrich
    (Photo: Hadar Yoavin)
    Netanyahu has repeatedly said that he would not advance initiatives to cancel the criminal charges against him or end his trial, He claimed the charges were being debunked in court. But his political allies said that if the Likud bloc wins a 61 seat Knesset majority, there will be an opportunity for "fundamental change," they believe most Israelis would support.

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