Jan 28, 2020

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

Israel's Netanyahu, Gantz take a break from campaigning to visit the White House

Benny Gantz, Blue and White Party leader. Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images

The two main contenders in Israel’s March 2 elections — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the leader of Blue and White party Benny Gantz — separately meet with President Trump today at the White House to discuss his peace plan, which is expected to be released tomorrow.  

Why it matters: Trump made this unusual move of inviting Netanyahu and Gantz, who is considered a party leader but holds no official position, because he wants to make sure both are on board regarding his peace plan, regardless of who wins the elections.

Go deeperArrowJan 27, 2020

Israeli court sets date of Netanyahu corruption trial

Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust is set to begin on March 17 at the district court in Jerusalem, the court announced today.

Why it matters: Netanyahu's trial will begin two weeks after the March 2 elections, likely in the middle of efforts to form a new government.

Go deeperArrowFeb 18, 2020 - World

Netanyahu slows annexation push as White House message shifts

Trump and Netanyahu at the White House. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu no longer plans to bring annexations in the West Bank before his Cabinet for a vote in the coming days, after being urged to slow down by the White House.

Why it matters: Netanyahu seemed to receive the green light he was looking for yesterday to go ahead with annexations of all Israeli settlements and much of the Jordan Valley — and he planned to act quickly. Now, he's taking a step back.

Go deeperArrowJan 29, 2020