Jan 28, 2020 - World

Netanyahu surrenders immunity, faces corruption trial

Trump and Netanyahu at the White House on Monday. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has surrendered his immunity from prosecution just minutes before the Knesset was set to form a committee expected to strip it from him.

The latest: Israel's attorney general has now sent the indictments against Netanyahu — for bribery, breach of trust and fraud — to the Jerusalem district court.

The backdrop: Netanyahu realized there was a majority in Israel's parliament, the Knesset, to strip him of immunity.

  • That's a humbling reality for the man who has dominated Israeli politics for a decade.
  • Netanyahu also realized his immunity push was alienating voters ahead of the March 2nd elections.
  • Netanyahu's top political rival, Benny Gantz, was planning to focus his campaign around the public hearing over Netanyahu's immunity request.

What they're saying: Netanyahu is in Washington and will join President Trump at the White House shortly for the rollout of his Middle East peace plan.

  • He released a statement blaming his opponents for dealing in petty politics while he dealt with the "historic" opportunities created by Trump’s peace plan.
  • Gantz issued a statement attacking Netanyahu and stressing that a prime minister can’t function when he needs to go to court to defend himself twice a week.  

What’s next: Netanyahu’s trial will begin in several weeks with the reading of the indictments. His lawyers will seek a postponement to ensure he doesn’t appear in court as a defendant before the elections.

  • He is the first sitting prime minister ever indicted on corruption charges.
Go deeper