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Netanyahu abandons plans for new immunity law, will use existing legislation

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on 14 April, 2019 [RONEN ZVULUN/AFP/Getty Images]
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on 14 April, 2019 [RONEN ZVULUN/AFP/Getty Images]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has abandoned plans to advance a new immunity law, reported the Times of Israel, in the face of opposition from the public and politicians – including from members of his own Likud party.

Instead, according to the Times of Israel, Netanyahu will “make do with the existing immunity law as amended in 2005”, citing sources close to the prime minister.

The sources stated last night to Zman Yisrael, the Times of Israel group’s Hebrew site, that “Netanyahu and his aides have been holding discussions in the last few days with legal experts regarding the current immunity law.”

These experts apparently affirmed that “the existing legislation does provide legitimate reasons by which Netanyahu can seek immunity against prosecution while he remains in office.”

READ: Likud’s Gideon Sa’ar publicly slams Netanyahu’s proposed immunity law 

“Under the law, immunity can be granted if, otherwise, the will of the voter would be thwarted and public interest would be harmed,” one source close to Netanyahu claimed.

One relevant clause provides for Knesset members to be given immunity if otherwise “real damage would be caused to the functioning of the Knesset or to the representation of the voters’ will”.

A second clause also says immunity can be granted if the indictment “has been issued in bad faith or because of discrimination”, which Netanyahu is also expected to cite.

The sources said yesterday that Netanyahu is doing everything he can to thwart the legal process against him, claiming in private that “there is not a chance in the world that I will get a fair hearing”.

Netanyahu also believes that “the legal hierarchy has marked me out” and “decided to take me out of the game, come what may”.

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