Israel election committee

Israeli Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (right) attends the first election committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on Dec. 18, 2019.

Israeli Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein announced on Sunday that the Knesset plenum will debate next week Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request for immunity from prosecution in the three criminal cases facing him.

With Jerusalem hosting more than 40 world leaders this week for the 5th World Holocaust Forum, commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, and with International Holocaust Remembrance Day falling on Jan. 27, the earliest a vote can be held is next Tuesday, Jan. 28.

Netanyahu’s aides were reportedly angered by the announcement, saying that Edelstein “fell into the trap laid by the left,” which is using the Knesset to “neutralize Netanyahu.”

Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz welcomed the decision, tweeting on Sunday night, “Netanyahu requested a debate on immunity—Netanyahu will get [a debate]. We’ll prevent an extremist immunity coalition from continuing to drag down Israel solely for the personal interests of Netanyahu.”

Edelstein’s announcement comes after last week’s Knesset vote to establish a House Committee to debate the immunity issue.

The vote constitutes a potential setback for the prime minister, as the committee’s ruling will likely be delivered before the new round of Israeli elections.

Should Netanyahu’s immunity request be denied, his trial could begin immediately. Alternately, if it is approved, the immunity granted would last only for the term of the Knesset that approved it, namely until the March 2 election, at which point Netanyahu would have to apply again to renew it. JN

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