Netanyahu Claims He’s Not Involved in Promoting Bills That Could Save Him From Trial

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Netanyahu at his trial hearing last year.
Netanyahu at his trial hearing last year.Credit: Reuben Kastri

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that he personally would not submit legislation that would prevent the investigation or trial of a sitting prime minister, but neither would he prevent other members of his Likud party from doing so.

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Shortly afterward, Likud lawmaker Nissim Vaturi tweeted that he would submit such legislation, known in Israel as the “French law.” Netanyahu is currently standing trial in three separate corruption cases.

The prime minister was asked during an interview with Army Radio on Monday whether he would submit such legislation, allow other members of his party to do so or ask the Knesset to grant him immunity from prosecution.

“I’m not intervening in this at all, neither promoting it nor blocking it,” he answered. “I’m not dealing with this in any way. I’m neither giving nor not giving [my approval]. I’m not dealing with this at all.”

He was then asked specifically what would happen if another Likud lawmaker sponsored such a bill. He responded, “There will be no need, because these cases will fall apart. I’m not dealing with immunity at all.”

Vaturi tweeted afterward, “The French law is a worthy law regardless of the political affiliation of the prime minister. A situation in which bureaucrats control the country even though they have never been elected is unacceptable. I will push such a bill in the next Knesset.” He erased this tweet a few minutes later, then wrote, “Yes, the French law is worthy. But it won’t apply to Netanyahu.”

Last month, the Kan 11 television station reported that Netanyahu had asked his party’s Knesset candidates not to talk about the French law for fear it would damage Likud’s campaign.

Netanyahu’s response to Army Radio echoed the one he gave Channel 13 television in response to a similar question last week: “I’m not dealing with this.” But in that interview, he didn’t address the possibility of another Likud MK submitting such legislation.

Prior to the April 2019 election, when asked a similar question by Channel 12 television, he vowed not to submit such legislation himself, but said he had never considered what he would do if another MK did so. “I don’t know, I haven’t dealt with this,” he said. “It’s the first time anyone has asked me, and I haven’t thought about it.”

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