Knesset legal adviser permits rejecting Netanyahu immunity

Majority against immunity presented to Edelstein

PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the country on Wednesday night. (photo credit: REUTERS)
PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the country on Wednesday night.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Knesset legal adviser Eyal Yinon ruled on Sunday that the Knesset House Committee could be formed to vote on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's request for parliamentary immunity from prosecution in his criminal cases.
In his ruling, Yinon criticized the timing for the move during an election. But said that the legislators of the Immunity Law wrote that immunity requests must be dealt with as soon as possible.
Yinon's ruling left  Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein as the only hurdle to prevent the formation of a House Committee, where there is a majoririty in favor of rejecting Netanyahu's immunity request. If Edelstein would allows the vote, Netanyahu's indictment could be formally issued to the Jerusalem District Court this week and his trial could begin soon.
Edelstein is under pressure from the Likud to prevent the House Committee from being formed and from Blue and White to allow it. Blue and White warned Edelstein not to "shame the holy of holies of Israeli democracy" and said he heads the Knesset, not the Likud campaign. Likud officials have warned that Edelstein's hopes for becoming president could be dashed if he enables prosecuting Netanyahu.
Likud faction chairman MK Miki Zohar called Yinon's ruling "A delusional decision that serves the Left and allows it to play political games."
Edelstein, Yinon and Knesset Arrangements Committee head Avi Nissenkorn held a short meeting on the immunity issue. After the meeting, Edelstein's spokesman said the Knesset speaker required additional clarification from Yinon.
Sources close to Edelstein denied reports that he had already decided not to permit the creation of a Knesset House Committee that could vote to deny Netanyahu immunity. The sources said Edelstein was waiting to see what kind of leeway and flexibility he is given by Yinon before making a decision on how to handle the issue.
Nissenorn said Sunday that he would present Edelstein and Yinon letters from the heads of factions numbering 65 MKs in favor of forming Knesset committees that would reject Netanyahu's immunity request and oversee the work of his caretaker government.
Nissenkorn wants his committee to be alllowed to create a House Committee, which is normally only formed after a government is sworn in, in order to vote on immunity for Netanyahu. A majority of the Knesset opposes immunity, but the prime minister has the support of his allies in religious and right-wing parties.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu called on all the parties to the Right of Likud to run together in the March 2 election, in a message he posted on Twitter on Saturday night.
Immediately after Shabbat, Netanyahu tweeted "the Right will not forgive Naftali Bennett, Bezalel Smitrich and Rafi Peretz if they don't unite and run in one party. Two lists could fall under the electoral threshold and bring the Left to power."
Bennett and Peretz oppose running together on one list.
Responding to Netanyahu, MK Ayelet Shaked tweeted that she appreciated his concern but her New Right party would continue trying to woo voters from Blue and White and Yisrael Beytenu.
The deadline to submit lists to the Central Elections Committee is January 15.