Benjamin Netanyahu vows not to pass immunity legislation if reelected

Yamina split over immunity.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday promised he would not advance the so-called “French law” that gives prime ministers and presidents immunity from prosecution.
Netanyahu denied charges from Blue and White leaders who have said one of the interim prime minister’s first steps if reelected would be to pass legislation that would let him evade justice in his criminal cases. Blue and White leader Benny Gantz said if Netanyahu did that, he would become like Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“I will go to court and disprove the charges against me,” Netanyahu told Galei Israel, a right-wing radio station.
France’s law gives a sitting head of state immunity from being indicted. It does not give retroactive immunity from an indictment that has already been filed. Netanyahu was indicted on January 28, and his trial is scheduled to begin March 17, so he would need a bill stronger than the French law to retroactively cancel his indictment or prevent it from moving forward. Legal experts have said it is unimaginable that the High Court of Justice would let such a law stand.
The Yamina Party on Monday appeared to be split over whether it would approve legislation to grant Netanyahu immunity from prosecution, with its MKs having suggested different positions on the issue.
On Friday, senior Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked said the party would not support such a bill to retroactively apply to Netanyahu.
“We are not aware of such a proposal, have not discussed it, and no one has talked to us about it,” she said at a cultural event in Givatayim. “We are not in favor of retroactive legislation. A law like this, if it happens, will not apply to Netanyahu.”
Shaked’s rejection of immunity for Netanyahu has been challenged by other members of the party slate.
Yamina MK Ofir Sofer told the Srugim news site the party had not discussed the issue, adding that Shaked was “expressing her personal opinion.”
“The basic position is that a right-wing government will be led by Netanyahu with Yamina, which will be a totally right-wing government,” he said.
Sarah Beck, who is No. 8 on Yamina’s list, also indicated she would be open to granting Netanyahu immunity.
“We need to examine this closely,” she told KAN Radio. “It could be that we have a French law. We have seen what the justice system does when sometimes there is selective enforcement… We need to weigh this more thoroughly.” There had been no internal dialogue within the party before Shaked made her comments, she added.
A spokesman for senior Yamina leader and Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich said the party had not formulated a position on the subject.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu denied a report that he would soon announce he is seeking his last term in office.
“I have made no such decision,” he said.