Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has withdrawn his request for immunity from prosecution on corruption charges hours before he was scheduled to meet US President Donald Trump for the revelation of the long-anticipated US peace plan.
In a statement published on Facebook this morning before Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, was set to vote on key measures regarding the immunity motion that would have likely led to his request being denied, Netanyahu wrote: “At this fateful hour for the people of Israel, at a time when I’m in the US for a historic mission to shape Israel’s permanent borders and secure its safety for the coming generations, another show of the removing immunity circus is expected in parliament.”
Netanyahu’s Likud party was planning to boycott the Knesset session, calling it tainted and politicised, reported Haaretz.
His decision opens the way for legal proceedings to go forward and set a date for the premier’s trial on the three corruption cases that were been brought against him in November, which consist of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
He denies any wrongdoing, saying he is the victim of a witch hunt by the media.
Netanyahu’s main election rival, Blue and White (Kahol Lavan) party leader Benny Gantz, met Trump yesterday before traveling back to Israel to take part in the planned Knesset meeting to debate Netanyahu’s immunity request.
In response to Netanyahu’s withdrawal, Gantz said in a statement: “Netanyahu is going to trial, we must go forward.”
According to Al Jazeera, a trial could take months or years and the 70-year-old leader is under no legal obligation to resign.
Gantz added: “Nobody could run a country and simultaneously manage three serious criminal charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.”
Netanyahu is currently in the US where he met with President Trump about the “Deal of the Century,” they are expected to deliver a joint statement today when the controversial peace plan is expected to be officially revealed.