Netanyahu denies intention to change immunity law to evade prosecution
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Netanyahu denies intention to change immunity law to evade prosecution

PM dismisses reports that he made such an amendment a coalition prerequisite, because ‘there won’t be anything’ in the probes against him

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem, June 30, 2019. (Oded Balilty/AP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem, June 30, 2019. (Oded Balilty/AP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday dismissed reports that his Likud party had demanded, during coalition talks in May, a commitment to passing new immunity legislation for Knesset members as a condition for joining the government.

“No one is changing the law, it doesn’t need to be changed, and I won’t need it at all,” Netanyahu said in a live Facebook video from a Jerusalem coffee shop near the Prime Minister’s Residence.

“It isn’t necessary at all because there has never been anything and there won’t be anything,” he added, employing his often-used refrain.

The prime minister is facing an indictment — pending a hearing — for corruption in three separate cases.

After the elections in April, reports swirled that his Likud party was conditioning membership in the coalition on support for a bill that would make it easier for him to retain immunity from prosecution — first by easing his path to gaining immunity via the Knesset, and then by canceling the Supreme Court’s authority to overturn such immunity.

As talks were still in progress MK Miki Zohar, a Likud ally of Netanyahu, officially submitted legislation to revert immunity laws to a previous state in which a Knesset committee and then the Knesset itself would need to vote on removing a lawmaker’s immunity before an indictment can even be filed. Under current laws, MKs must vote in favor of giving a colleague immunity against a looming indictment.

Coalition talks ultimately failed to produce a majority coalition and Netanyahu instead dissolved parliament, calling fresh elections for September 17.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has announced pending fraud and breach of trust charges against Netanyahu in three graft cases including bribery in one of them. A hearing for the prime minister has been set for October 2-3.

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