MK Haim Katz given immunity by Knesset

Former Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Haim Katz is suspected of breach of trust, claims he’s innocent and is being punished for something he never did.

Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit and Likud MK Haim Katz (photo credit: ARIK BENDER/MAARIV)
Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit and Likud MK Haim Katz
(photo credit: ARIK BENDER/MAARIV)
The Knesset House Committee voted 16 to 10 with four abstentions on Tuesday to grant immunity from prosecution to Likud MK Haim Katz, who became the first MK to win immunity from his peers in the 15 years since that has been possible by law.
The decision, which did not follow party lines, still requires approval by the Knesset plenum and will be challenged in the Supreme Court. The House Committee was formed in order to deal with the immunity request of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which he rescinded before proceedings began.
"What I have gone through is enough punishment," Katz told his colleagues. "Stop my suffering."
At one point in Tuesday's full day of meetings, Katz lashed out at Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, who told the committee that Katz committed the crime of "breach of trust on the highest level" and there is no basis to grant him immunity.
"He harmed my health," Katz said. "I am an honest man. I’ve never lied in my life."
In the heated debate, Katz responded to the allegations of misconduct and breach of trust against him by saying that for the past three and half years, “I am paying for something I didn’t do.” Claiming it was an “admirer” who had filed over 100 complaints to the police against him in the past 22 years, Katz argued that he is not guilty of any wrongdoing and that he was already punished, for example, when his US visa was revoked.
“I helped legislate 180 laws,” he said, “never once did I make a mistake or overstep my authority.”
If Katz is granted immunity, he will only be able to enjoy it until the next Knesset is sworn in. It will then have to come to another vote Katz served as Labor and Social Affairs Minister before he resigned in August due to the indictment.
Mandelblit told Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein on Wednesday that Katz's case does not adhere to the grounds set out in the Knesset Immunity Law.
An indictment was filed against Katz for fraud and breach of trust, and according to the indictment, Katz violated conflict of interest principles in his economic dealings with Equital Ltd.’s Motti Ben Ari on several occasions and covered it up to obtain illegal economic gains for the two of them.
According to the indictment, Katz vocally supported a 2010 reform to the country’s insolvency laws which was specifically targeted to helping Ben Ari and Ben Ari’s company - in which Katz himself also had heavy investments.
This would mean that Katz helped advance legislation to personally benefit himself and his primary financial adviser and close friend.
Yonah Jeremy Bob and Alon Einhorn contributed to this report