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Knesset panel votes to move ahead on Netanyahu’s immunity request

Panel votes 16 to 5 in favor of forming a key committee to deliberate on the request • Netanyahu: “Blue and White have zero achievements to show the citizens of Israel, so they kidnapped the Knesset.”

Arrangements Committee chairman MK Avi Nissenkorn is seen during a committee vote at the Knesset in Jerusalem on Jan. 13, 2020. Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90.
Arrangements Committee chairman MK Avi Nissenkorn is seen during a committee vote at the Knesset in Jerusalem on Jan. 13, 2020. Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90.

Following a heated two-hour meeting on Monday, a Knesset panel voted 16-5 in favor of establishing a House Committee to deliberate on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request for immunity from prosecution in the three criminal cases facing him.

The committee will comprise 30 members, from all political parties based on their representation in Knesset, “to ensure representation of all factions,” according to panel chairman MK Avi Nissenkorn (Blue and White).

Likud MK Miki Zohar stormed out of the meeting, accusing Blue and White of “hijacking the Knesset” and promising to file a High Court petition against the decision.

Echoing Zohar’s remarks, Netanyahu tweeted on Monday: “Blue and White have zero achievements to show the citizens of Israel, so they kidnapped the Knesset to advance their only campaign: ‘Just not Bibi.’”

Monday’s vote constitutes a potential setback for the prime minister, as the ruling on his immunity request can now potentially be delivered in the coming weeks, before the March 2 elections. Should a House Committee convene and reject his request, Netanyahu’s trial could begin immediately.

Alternately, if the committee were to approve the request, the immunity granted would last only for the term of the Knesset that approved it, namely until the March 2 election, at which point he would have to apply again to renew it.

It’s not yet clear when the House Committee will be formed or when the hearings will be held.

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