Knesset panel passes anti-immunity hurdle against Netanyahu

Likud faction head warns Knesset has been hijacked

Knesset members discuss Netanyahu's request for immunity (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Knesset members discuss Netanyahu's request for immunity
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
In two stormy meetings, the Knesset Arrangements Committee passed two proposals on Monday to facilitate proceedings that will reject immunity from prosecution for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his criminal cases.
The committee voted to form the Knesset House Committee, even though it is normally only established after a government is formed. Other regular Knesset committees were created as well, pending approval by the Knesset plenum.
Blue and White started pressuring Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein for the plenum to be convened this week, while Netanyahu’s associates applied opposite pressure on Edelstein to try to prevent, or at least delay, the convening of the plenum.
Sources close to Netanyahu denied reports that he was angry at Edelstein for allowing the House Committee to be formed and that the prime minister had accused the Knesset speaker of “stabbing him in the back.” The sources said he was only angry at Blue and White.
Netanyahu wrote on Twitter: “Blue and White has zero achievements for the citizens of Israel, so they hijacked the Knesset in order to advance their only campaign: ‘Anyone but Bibi.’”
Netanyahu summoned the heads of the parties in his coalition to meet on Tuesday and plan their joint parliamentary attack against the effort to prevent him from receiving immunity. Blue and White MK Yair Lapid said it was wrong that the party leaders were getting together to deal with Netanyahu’s immunity instead of helping the rest of the citizens of Israel.
Likud faction head Miki Zohar and other coalition MKs left both Arrangements Committee meetings in anger, saying the meetings were illegal because Edelstein did not officially authorize them. But the committee’s legal adviser said the meetings were permitted.
Zohar and the other MKs shouted that the committee had become “a political circus.” He called for boycotting the proceedings in the plenum and the committees.
The proposal to form the House Committee passed along party lines by a vote of 16 to five, after most of the representatives of Likud and its allies left the room.
Meretz faction head Tamar Zandberg said it was Netanyahu himself who requested that the Knesset deal – with his immunity and with forming the other committees – would enable important issues like education and health to be dealt with, helping the public.
The committee authorized that decisions on immunity would be made in the Knesset House Committee without Edelstein being able to interfere.