Netanyahu's Trip to Washington May Delay Immunity Talks, Officials Believe

Kahol Lavan and Likud officials say that it would be difficult for the Knesset to begin deliberations in the absence of the prime minister, who is slated to meet Trump on Monday to discuss Mideast peace plan

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau announces his request for immunity from prosecution in criminal cases, Jerusalem, January 1, 2020.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau announces his request for immunity from prosecution in criminal cases, Jerusalem, January 1, 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

The Knesset discussion on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's request to receive immunity from prosecution in three corruption cases slated for Tuesday may be delayed due to the premier's planned trip to the United States this week, Likud and Kahol Lavan officials believe.

The Israeli parliament is scheduled to vote Tuesday on convening a legislative panel to discuss Netanyahu's immunity request. Assuming the legislature approves the measure, the Knesset House Committee will begin its deliberations on Thursday.

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Netanyahu is set to fly out to Washington on Sunday afternoon, hold meetings with Trump on Monday and Tuesday and return to Israel by Thursday.

Sources in both parties said they expected the debate and vote in the Knesset on Tuesday to take place as scheduled, since the prime minister does not have to attend the session in order to hold the vote, and Kahol Lavan might even agree to a vote pairing in order to offset his absence.

Sources, however, stated that it would be difficult for the Knesset House Committee to begin its deliberations in the prime minister's absence. Netanyahu will be asked to address the panel, and he has a right to attend its sessions, to respond to and comment on the proceedings and to submit objections to its agenda.

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Any delay will reduce the likelihood of the committee's completing its deliberations on Netanyahu's immunity request within a reasonable amount of time before the March 2 general election, as per the request of Knesset legal adviser Eyal Yinon. Yinon did not give the Knesset House Committee a deadline, however.

Likud officials are hoping that Netanyahu's meeting with Trump on Tuesday will overshadow coverage of the Knesset debate and vote on convening the committee.

Sources in Kahol Lavan said they thought the Knesset House Committee, if its convention were approved, would likely postpone until early next week its first session on Netanyahu's immunity request in the event the prime minister asked it to do so. The committee is also slated to discuss the immunity request of former Likud lawmaker Haim Katz, who is charged with bribery, aggravated fraud and breach of trust.

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