Members of the Knesset Sorting Committee voted Monday in favor of establishing a House Committee, the only parliamentary panel able to debate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request for immunity from prosecution in his three graft cases.
After a two-hour deliberation, constantly interrupted by right-wing MKs, the panel voted 16 to 5 in favor of establishing and staffing the committee.
The committee will constitute of 30 members “to ensure representation of all factions,” said Sorting Committee Chairman MK Avi Nissenkorn of Blue & White.
Eight seats, each allotted to Blue & White and Likud; three seats for the Joint List; two apiece for Shas, Labor-Gesher, Yisrael Beytenu and United Torah Judaism; and one seat each for the Democratic Union, the Jewish Home, and the New Right.
Nissenkorn, who called the establishment of the committee “an absolute necessity,” agreed to Yisrael Beytenu MK Oded Forer’s proposal to also establish all the other permanent Knesset committees that have been dormant during the past year.
The formation of a House Committee still requires a plenum vote, which Nissenkorn said he hoped would be held this week.
Likud MK Miki Zohar stormed out of the debate, accusing Blue & White of "hijacking Knesset” and stated he will petition the decision to the High Court.
The results of the vote mean that the House Committee can debate and potentially vote on Netanyahu’s immunity request in the coming weeks, perhaps even days, long before election day on March 2.
Likud officials have said they will try to delay the process, hoping to push it past March 2, when a new Knesset will be voted in.
Blue & White is hoping the committee will debate and reject Netanyahu’s request within three weeks, with enough time to spare before the election.
The House Committee will also debate the immunity request filed by former Likud minister Haim Katz, who also faces several corruption charges.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said in response: "Blue and White have zero achievements to show the Israeli citizens, so they kidnapped Knesset to promote their single campaign slogan - Only Not Bibi."