Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit formally submitted the indictment against Benjamin Netanyahu to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, beginning a 30-day period in which the Prime Minister is entitled to request of the Parliament grant him immunity from prosecution.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has not indicated whether he intends to seek immunity, and it remains unclear whether he would be able to muster the legally-required majority of at least 61 Knesset Members to attain it.
The Attorney General’s indictment letter also included long list of 333 prosecution witnesses, whose testimony would effectively ensure long trial against the Israeli leader even if only a number were called to appear before the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also facing mounting pressure from within his own Likud party; as an increased number of branch directors, mayors and deputy-mayors are siding openly sided with his faction rival, Gideon Saar. Saar’s supporters are demanding the holding of a primary be added to the agenda of the faction’s Central Committee meeting slated for Thursday (December 5), which would determine Netanyahu’s leadership over Likud.
As prospects of an unprecedented third round of national elections rises, Israel’s Central Elections Committee has announced it would be able to complete preparations for balloting by 25 February 2020. According to CEC Director General Orly Ades, voting could be held even three weeks ahead of the previously-considered 17 March 2020 date, if the Knesset dissolution occurs by next week. Only eight days remain before the deadline for any Knesset Member to garner majority-support to try and form a viable coalition, after which no option exists other than holding another round of elections in under 12 months.
Meanwhile, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz urged his rival Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accept a new power-sharing proposal to spare Israel from having to return to the ballot box. “I understand we will have to accept compromise-proposals, but not compromise-charades,” said Gantz. “In order to pass compromise proposals, there is no need to leak conversations with associates or “closed” conversations. You can talk openly.”
In remarks addressed to Netanyahu, Gantz said it must be recognized “there are compromises in life” and that the Blue and White “won the election.” He then voiced his party’s willingness to compromise in the interest of forming a rotating-premiership within a unity government. This, he spelled out, would entail his serving a two-year term, while Netanyahu would remain as head of the Likud and able to “take care of your business.”
“I guarantee we will find a position that suits your unique situation,” stressed the former IDF Chief of Staff, suggesting “One that will allow you to function and allow you to return if you clear your name.”
Lt.-Col. (Res) Gantz then said he shares the priority the Premier places on Israel’s annexation of the Jordan Valley, in what was the first time that Blue and White has indicated it favors the assertion of sovereignty over the area. The disputed territory joins the Biblical districts of Judea and Samaria in forming the West Bank. “Our commitment to the Jordan Valley as the security wall on the eastern border of the State of Israel has nothing to do with the seating arrangements around the government table, but rather the security of the State of Israel, forever and ever. Netanyahu, we both understand that. There are a few more days, stop the hourglass and let’s talk, not about unclear suggestions, let’s talk about the outline I have presented here clearly today.”
“We really face significant security challenges,” added Gantz. “Iran is based on the northern border. International Policy opportunities are evident in our ways. The residents of the south are under fire almost every week, and it is clear that the person leading the country should be one who can unite it from within and face an outside challenge, rather than an illegitimate transitional government headed by a criminal suspect.”
Gantz opened his speech in a call for unity. This, amid a dangerous domestic discourse culminating in acts of violence against groups within the country’s ethnically-diverse society over the course of the past several weeks, for which Gantz blamed Netanyahu .
“The Prime Minister’s legal-political situation, with three indictments, and a lack of necessary political compromises on his part, has sadly degenerated into a heated and violent discourse,” said the Blue and White party leader. “Since entering politics, I have emphasized that Israel is above all others, and we must not treat the resurrection of Israel as a given. We are strong and united against our external enemies, but the real challenge, the most crucial challenge we have to deal with is the [internal] division and great fear – that is not baseless- of a struggle between brothers, or God forbid a [civil] war between brothers.”
There was no immediate response from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bureau to TV7’s request for comment.