Israeli Parliament Speaker Feeling Heat over Netanyahu Immunity Bid
Israeli Parliament Speaker Yuli Edelstein is being pressured from all sides to either allow or disallow a vote in the plenum to form a legislative committee that is expected to reject Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s request for immunity from prosecution in three criminal cases. Netanyahu’s political rivals are pushing to hold a vote as early as Monday to create the House Committee, whose formation ahead of the March 2 national elections was greenlighted earlier this month by a parliamentary legal adviser. Netanyahu loyalists believe that the body, which would hear and rule on Netanyahu’s immunity case, should not be formed given that parliament has technically been disbanded and argue that the prime minister’s fate should be determined by the public six weeks from now. While Edelstein, a member of Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party, publicly disagreed with the legal opinion, he vowed to abide by it and not block a vote from being held in parliament. If approved, the 30-member House Committee would be staffed with lawmakers from across the political spectrum, with representation determined by the proportion of mandates won by each party in the inconclusive September election. Accordingly, the body is projected to have 16 legislators from political parties on record as opposing immunity for Netanyahu, making it a near fait accompli that his bid would fail.