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Netanyahu denies intention to amend immunity law

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives an address from his office in Jerusalem on 3 April 2019, announcing that the remains of Sergeant First Class Zachary Baumel, a soldier missing since the 1982 Lebanon war, had been returned to the country. [MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images]
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday denied that he had sought support for amending the immunity law for Israeli MKs, Arab48 reported.

Netanyahu said in a live Facebook video from a coffee shop near his residence that “no one is changing the law, it doesn’t need to be changed, and I won’t need it at all.”

He added: “It isn’t necessary at all because there has never been anything and there won’t be anything,” referring to corruption cases in which he has been embroiled.

The Times of Israel reported that, in the wake of the Knesset elections in April, the Likud “was conditioning membership in the coalition on support for a bill that would make it easier for him [Netanyahu] to retain immunity from prosecution.”

According to the Israeli online newspaper, the plan consisted of gaining immunity through the Knesset, then cancelling the authority to overturn such immunity by the Israeli Supreme Court.

READ: How is Netanyahu still Israel’s Prime Minister? 

Netanyahu has long been embroiled in three separate corruption cases, dubbed Case 1000Case 2000 and Case 4000 respectively. In Case 1000, Netanyahu stands accused of accepting lavish gifts from two influential businessmen in return for favourable legislation and personal favours.

In Case 2000, Netanyahu is being investigated for promising Arnon Mozes – the owner of Israeli newspaper Yedioth Aronoth – that he would curtail the circulation of Israel Hayom, Mozes’ main competitor publication, in return for favourable coverage of him and his policies.

In Case 4000 – sometimes known as the Bezeq case – Netanyahu is accused of providing regulatory benefits to Shaul Elovitch, the owner of telecom giant Bezeq, in return for favourable coverage on Elovitch’s Walla news site. Due to the similarity of the cases and the overlap of key personalities and witnesses, Mandelblit had tied the three cases together, refusing to give a verdict on one case while the other was still being investigated.

Though opposition figures have called for Netanyahu to resign in light of the attorney general’s recommendations, Israeli law does not require him to step down from the premiership unless he is formally charged and sentenced. For his part, Netanyahu has previously joked that he is “ready to leave” his position as prime minister but has “no one to leave the keys with”.

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