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Israeli PM seeks immunity in graft cases

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-01-02 07:59

Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statment to the media in Jerusalem Jan 1, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

JERUSALEM -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said he would ask the parliament to grant him immunity from prosecution in three corruption cases.

In a statement broadcasted live on Israel's main TV channels, Netanyahu said he would submit his request to the Speaker of the Parliament Yuli Edelstein in order to "continue to serve you for the sake of the future of the State of Israel."

He submitted the request only four hours before the midnight deadline on Wednesday.

The request could delay the cases against Netanyahu and secure him several more months at the office, enabling him to run for another term in the national elections on March 2.

Netanyahu was indicted on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.

Benny Gantz, chairman of the Blue and White party, Netanyahu's main rival, said the party "would do anything possible to prevent the immunity."

He accused Netanyahu of "endangering the civilian basis of equality before the law" with trying to shield himself from standing to trial.

Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the right-wing Israel Our Home party, also denounced the move, saying that Netanyahu "has been only interested in his immunity and took the State of Israel as his hostage."

Israel's political system has been paralyzed over the past year amid two rounds of national elections that failed to yield conclusive results.

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