Netanyahu seeks parliamentary immunity that could delay corruption trial until after election

Israeli’s prime minister said Wednesday that he will seek parliamentary immunity from prosecution from the corruption charges brought against him, a move that could delay his trial until the spring.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement will likely put the trial against him on hold until after the elections in March, when he hopes to win a majority coalition that will shield him from prosecution.

In Israel, a trial cannot get underway once an immunity request is made.

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Israeli’s prime minister said Wednesday that he will seek parliamentary immunity from prosecution in the corruption charges against him, which could delay his trial until after the elections. (Patricia de Melo Moreira/Pool via REUTERS)

Israeli’s prime minister said Wednesday that he will seek parliamentary immunity from prosecution in the corruption charges against him, which could delay his trial until after the elections. (Patricia de Melo Moreira/Pool via REUTERS)

Netanyahu was indicted in November on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust over allegations he granted state favors worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Israeli media barons in return for gifts and favorable coverage.

The 70-year-old once again denied any wrongdoing during a nationally televised address Wednesday. He said he would seek to invoke the law that would protect him from prosecution while he remains in office.

“In order to continue to lead Israel to great achievements, I intended to approach the speaker of the Knesset in accordance with chapter 4C of the law, in order to fulfill my right, my duty and my mission to continue to serve you for the future of Israel,” he said.

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The announcement came just four hours before a deadline for an application for immunity was set to expire, Reuters reported.

Amid a deep political deadlock, Israeli’s parliament seems unlikely to decide the issue before the March 2 election.

The current caretaker government is not empowered to make a decision on granting Netanyahu immunity.

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In order to debate the matter, parliament would have to appoint a special committee that needs to study the request. But it remains unclear whether it will be allowed to do so.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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