Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asks the Israeli parliament to grant him immunity from prosecution. He wants protection three corruption cases in which he was charged with, among other things, bribery and fraud.
Due to Netanyahu’s request, the lawsuit against him is likely to be delayed by at least a few months. Parliament will probably only consider the issue after the March elections. In March, the third elections are planned within a year, because two previous elections did not yield a government last year.
Netanyahu had until today to request immunity, after he was officially sued by the public prosecutor in November. In a nationally broadcast speech the leader of the Likud party tonight reiterated that he would be the victim of a conspiracy against him. “I want to lead Israel for many more years,” the prime minister said.
After the March elections, Netanyahu hopes in Parliament for a majority that will protect him from persecution. A recent poll indicated that the majority of Israelis are against it.
The main challenger of Netanyahu spoke in a response about a “sad day for Israel.” Benny Gantz from the Blue and White middle party accused his opponent of being only interested in his personal destiny and not in the future of the state of Israel. “Netanyahu knows he is guilty,” Gantz said.
Netanyahu has to answer in three corruption cases for bribery, fraud and breach of trust. According to the law, he would have favored the owner of a news site and telecom company for hundreds of millions of euros in exchange for positive reporting. He would also have accepted gifts worth of hundreds of thousands of euros from businessmen in exchange for political favors.
Bribery is subject to a maximum prison term of ten years in Israel; fraud and breach of trust are for a maximum of three years. Netanyahu’s predecessor Olmert was sentenced to prison after his resignation.