Netanyahu’s Right-Wing Bloc to Boycott Knesset Vote on Immunity

The Knesset is expected to vote today (Tuesday, January 28) to convene a legislative committee to discuss far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s immunity application.

In November, Netanyahu was charged with fraud, bribery and breach of trust in three cases. The Knesset’s plenum discussion will take place while Netanyahu is in Washington for the unveiling of US President Donald Trump’s imperialist “Deal of the Century”.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump confer at Ben Gurion International Airport prior to the latter's departure from Israel on May 23, 2017.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump confer at Ben Gurion International Airport prior to the latter’s departure from Israel on May 23, 2017. (Photo: GPO)

The right-wing and clerical coalition parties announced on Sunday, January 26, that they intend to boycott a Knesset plenary vote on the immunity application The parties expected to be absent from the vote are the Prime Minister’s Likud party, the ultra-orthodox parties United Torah Judaism and Shas and the extreme right alliance Yamina. Following the coalition’s announcement, MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash), leader of the Joint List, said his parliamentary faction would ensure that “this corrupt man is brought to justice and pays for his crimes.”

Netanyahu and his loyalists invested immense efforts in trying to prevent the vote from taking place before the country goes to the polls in March, including threats against Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, a lawmaker from  Netanyahu’s Likud party, who eventually approved the debate after consulting the parliament’s legal adviser. Netanyahu never had a majority to block the vote. Assuming that the legislature approves the measure, the Knesset House committee will begin its deliberations on same day.

On Sunday, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced that he would file an indictment, pending a hearing, against another senior Likud MK, David Bitan, for bribery, fraud and breach of trust, as well as money laundering and tax offenses. Bitan is accused of receiving NIS 992,000 ($287,000) in bribes while serving as deputy mayor of Rishon Lezion and as a Knesset member.

Earlier this month, Bitan announced he was backing away from his nomination as agriculture minister after an upcoming vote to approve a number of Netanyahu’s ministerial selections was delayed indefinitely following a ruling by the High Court of Justice.