(September 16, 2019 / JNS) Yamina candidate Naftali Bennett reiterated on Sunday that the “stability of Israel” would play a key role in his decision over whether to support parliamentary immunity for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who faces multiple corruption investigations.
Bennett’s statements, made during an interview co-sponsored by The Times of Israel and the Tel Aviv International Salon, echo his remarks in an interview earlier this month in which he said that “something extreme” would have to happen for his party to oppose immunity for Netanyahu.
Bennett had previously expressed total opposition to immunity for Netanyahu at various times over the past year. What changed his mind, he said on Sunday, were security considerations, citing recent rocket attacks by Hezbollah and Hamas.
“Immunity is a quasi-judicial process,” he said, “and what I would tell Netanyahu, what I have said publicly: If, God forbid, an indictment is presented, I will weigh various things.”
He mentioned national security and the specific charges against the prime minister as among issues to consider.
“One of them would be stability for Israel, and I would also weigh the charges,” he said. “It’s about balancing values. What do we do during half a year if we have rockets from Hezbollah and no prime minister? Israel is not Luxembourg. So we have much less of a buffer to make big mistakes.”
Netanyahu denies all wrongdoing in all three criminal cases against him as he fights for re-election. He is scheduled for a pre-indictment hearing on Oct. 2-3, covering multiple corruption probes against him including fraud, bribery and breach of trust. If legislation is not passed to grant immunity to sitting premiers, he could face prosecution while in office, which would result in new elections being called.
To avoid prosecution in the cases, Netanyahu would need to be granted immunity by a majority vote in the Knesset, as well as pass legislation preventing the possibility of the Supreme Court overturning the Knesset decision.
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