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Netanyahu will ask Israeli parliament for immunity

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Netanyahu will ask Israeli parliament for immunity

Abir Sultan / EPA

Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced today in a long-awaited televised speech that he will ask parliament for immunity to avoid being tried for three corruption cases.

"I intend to appeal to the President of Parliament to exercise my right and my duty to continue serving citizens," he said in his speech. The announcement came just hours before the deadline to apply for protection and is Netanyahu's last resort to avoid being tried for corruption, fraud and abuse of trust in three separate cases.

On November 21, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit indicted Netanyahu in the three different cases and provided the Prime Minister with a deadline until January 2 to file an immunity application.

Israeli law stipulates that prosecuting ministers must resign, but this rule does not apply to the prime minister, and when Netanyahu maintains his intention to report to the March legislatures by the Likud (nationalist right).

This request should initially be considered by a parliamentary committee, but because the parliament was dissolved in the run-up to the general elections on March 2, the third in less than a year in Israel, Netanyahu's request will in principle have to wait for the next scrutiny before being evaluated.

In December, Netanyahu announced that he was leaving the post of Minister of Agriculture, Diaspora and Health, which he was accumulating as Prime Minister, but remained at the head of government. On Sunday, he appointed ultra-Orthodox Minister of Health Yaakov Litzman.

Several lawyers, in turn, have asked the Supreme Court to rule on Netanyahu's right to receive from Israeli President Reuven Rivlin the task of forming a government despite accusations against him.

On Tuesday, a panel of three Supreme Court judges began to study this issue, and indicated that the ruling will be communicated at a later date, which was not specified.

"I do not imagine for a moment that the Supreme Court falls into this trap in a democracy, it is only the people who decide who can rule it, and no one else," the prime minister said on Tuesday in his Twitter account.

Despite litigation with justice, Netanyahu, 70, won last week the primaries for the Likud board, with more than 72% support in the first vote.

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