Edelstein allows Knesset vote on committee to consider PM’s immunity plea

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Netanyahu’s efforts to delay formation of committee until after March 2 elections comes due current Knesset having clear majority to block immunity plea

Moran Azulay, Yuval Karni – www.ynetnews.com

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein announced Sunday that he would allow the Knesset plenum to convene next Tuesday to vote on forming a panel examining Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bid for parliamentary immunity.

The committee cannot be convened without a plenum majority vote in favor of the move.

Netanyahu was charged in November with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three separate corruption cases and his request for parliamentary immunity has been expected to delay his court appearance until after the March 2 elections. The Likud leader denies the allegations.

The speaker, who is a member of the prime minister’s ruling Likud party, has so far resisted convening the plenum for the vote that Netanyahu was trying to postpone until after the elections, hoping the results would yield a more amenable committee.

Last week, Knesset Legal Adviser Eyal Yinon came under fire from the prime minister’s allies after he submitted his opinion, saying the committee can be convened before the elections and that Edelstein cannot prevent its establishment.

“I disagree with the Knesset legal adviser’s opinion,” Edelstein said. “As far as it depends on me, I will not lend a hand in turning the committee to a place of cheap election propaganda.”

The legal opinion followed a request to launch the process submitted by 65 different lawmakers – a majority in the 120-strong Knesset – in favor of denying Netanyahu immunity.

Blue & White officials were reported to have warned the speaker that they would vote to replace him if he continues to prevent the parliamentary process from continuing.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz, a close ally of the prime minister said in response, “It is sad to see the speaker falling into the trap set by the left.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu had accused main rivals Blue & White of having ” zero achievements to show the Israeli citizens,” claiming “they kidnapped Knesset to promote their single campaign slogan – anyone but Netanyahu.”

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