Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (left) shakes hands with President Reuven Rivlin during a ceremony at the President's Residence in Jerusalem last November. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Parliament Speaker in Israel Okays Key Vote on Netanyahu’s Immunity Bid

Yuli Edelstein, speaker of Israel’s Knesset, or parliament, has green-lighted a vote next week in the full plenum to create a House Committee that is widely expected to reject Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s request for immunity in three criminal cases against him. “Even though I disagree with the position of the Knesset legal adviser, I believe that in order to maintain trust in the institution of Knesset speaker by all the factions, it is important to accept it,” Edelstein, who is a member of the ruling Likud party, said in a statement. He was referring to a recent legal opinion that concluded that the House Committee – the only legislative body permitted by law to hear and rule on immunity requests by lawmakers – could be formed even though parliament was officially disbanded prior to the March 2 national election. Netanyahu’s political allies had applied tremendous pressure on Edelstein to block the vote, arguing that Yinon’s judgment should have been invalidated given that his wife worked on a legal team that investigated the prime minister. In the eventuality that it is approved, the 30-member House Committee will be staffed by 16 legislators from political parties that have gone on record as opposing immunity for Netanyahu, making the failure of his bid a near fait accompli. Netanyahu is reportedly fuming over Edelstein’s decision. A statement attributed by Israeli media to close confidants of the prime minister said that Edelstein was “allowing the Knesset to become a political circus during elections by lending a hand to the tricks of the Left.”

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