Netanyahu Considers Dropping Bombshell: Forgoing Immunity in Order to Form Gov't, Stave Off Election

Such a move by Netanyahu could stop the Knesset from dissolving itself later Wednesday as its mandate to find a candidate to form a government expires at midnight

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the swearing-in of the new Israel's parliament in Jerusalem, Oct. 3, 2019
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the swearing-in of the new Israel's parliament in Jerusalem, Oct. 3, 2019Credit: Ariel Schalit,AP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering announcing Wednesday that he intends to forgo his right to request immunity from prosecution in the three criminal cases he was charged in, if he and his rivals manage to overcome the current political deadlock and set up a government. 

Netanyahu is mulling the move in order to prevent the Knesset from dissolving later Wednesday, as the deadline for lawmakers to choose a candidate who would try to form a governing coalition expires at midnight. 

Such a move would stop Israel from heading for a third election in one year. 

The Knesset had already passed in an initial vote a bill to dissolve itself and head for a March 2 election. The Israeli parliament still has to pass the bill in three more votes before it is officially approved. 

The premier is consulting with his attorneys about the legal repercussions of the move. Since this past weekend, he has been debating whether he should reliniquish his right to ask for immunity, and is weighing whether he should surprise fellow lawmakers later Wednesday when they vote on dissolving the Knesset by making this announcement. 

Nonetheless, Likud officials familiar with Netanyahu's deliberations have told Haaretz that they doubt Netanyahu will forgo his immunity, even in return for an opportunity to head another government.

Netanyahu rival and Kahol Lavan chairman Benny Gantz made a surprise move on Tuesday when he announced that he was willing to negotiate with the prime minister if he would not request immunity. 

Likud said in a statement that "After thwarting the formation of a unity a coalition as well as minority government with [Joint list lawmaker] Ahmad Tibi and Ayman Odeh, Kahol Lavan is engaging in a slew of political stunts.

"We have a few hours left. If Kahol Lavan agrees to apply Israeli sovereignty on the Jordan Valley and [Jewish] communities in Judea and Samaria, a government could be formed immediately and election could be avoided," Likud said.      

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