Israel PM Netanyahu seeks immunity from graft charges

WION Web Team Jerusalem Jan 02, 2020, 08.41 AM(IST)

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a joint statement in Tel Aviv, Israel November 12, 2019. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Opposition leader Benny Gantz vowed that his Blue and White party would do everything it could to prevent Netanyahu's immunity.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday sought parliamentary immunity from prosecution over corruption charges against him.

"The immunity law is intended to protect elected politicians from made-up cases, from political indictments targeted at harming the people's will. This law is intended to ensure that those elected will be able to serve the people according to the people's will," the Israeli prime minister said.

"For all those reasons, in order to continue leading Israel to great accomplishments, I intend to make a request to the Speaker of the Knesset according to article 4-G of the law, in order to fulfill my right, my obligation and my mission to continue serving you (Israel's citizens) for the sake of Israel's future," he added.

Netanyahu was charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust making him the first sitting Israeli leader to have been indicted for corruption.

Opposition leader Benny Gantz hit out at the controversial move. Gantz vowed that his Blue and White party would do everything it could to prevent immunity.

"I never imagined that we would see the day that the prime minister of Israel would avoid standing before the law and the justice system, that a prime minister wouldn't care about the future of the state of Israel, rather only about himself and his individual fate," Gantz said.

"Today it's clear what we're fighting for. Netanyahu knows he's guilty," he added.

The allegations against Netanyahu range from receiving gifts worth thousands of dollars to a deal to change regulatory frameworks in favour of a media group in exchange for favourable press coverage. Another case against the Israeli prime minister is that he made decisions benefiting the Israeli media mogul Shaul Elovitch.

According to law, the trial cannot begin once an immunity request is made. However, the Israeli parliament which has been dissolved ahead of fresh elections is unlikely to rule on the request before th polls.

Netanyahu, who denies any sort of wrongdoing, would still need the support of more than half of mps for immunity to be granted.