Israel’s attorney general filed three indictments on Tuesday, January 28, against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu charging him in a triad of corruption cases, only hours after the far-right leader withdrew his request for a parliamentary vote to grant him immunity from prosecution. The Knesset was widely expected to reject Netanyahu’s immunity request, which would have dealt a huge blow to the prime minister ahead of the elections.
Hadash MK Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List in the Knesset, said, “the path to trial is paved and no diplomatic public relations stunt in the world will prevent him from being brought to justice,” alluding to the highly-publicized ceremony in the White House unveiling the “Deal of the Century” on the same day. The Joint List played an important role in coalescing a majority of MKs against granting immunity to Netanyahu.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit filed the indictment with the Jerusalem District Court charging Netanyahu with bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Mandelblit initially announced his decision to indict Netanyahu on November 21, but could not file the charges until the prime minister’s immunity request process was concluded. Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing.
Netanyahu withdrew his request for immunity from prosecution just hours before the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, was scheduled to hold a vote on the request. Tuesday’s filing of indictments could affect the March 2 election — the third in less than a year — and change the course of negotiations over forming a new government and who will become the new prime minister.