Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Parliament to grant him immunity from prosecution after he was indicted on three corruption charges, The New York Times reports.
"I will come to court and quash all the ridiculous libels against me," Netanyahu said. "The immunity law is intended to protect elected officials from manufactured cases, and guarantee that those elected by the people can serve the people according to their will and not the will of the legal officials."
Netanyahu previously said he would not seek immunity.
The request could delay the case against him for months as Netanyahu faces a third general election in less than a year after failing to build a majority coalition in parliament.
Netanyahu claims he’s the victim of political indictment:
Netanyahu said in a televised speech that immunity was meant to prevent “political indictments whose purpose is to impair the will of the people.”
“Unfortunately, that’s what happened in my case,” he claimed.
Rival blasts move:
“I never imagined we would see the day when a prime minister of Israel would avoid standing before the law and the courts,” opposition leader Benny Gantz said in his response.
“Today it is clear what we are fighting for,” Gantz said. “Netanyahu knows he’s guilty.” He said the choice was between “immunity before all else or the citizens of Israel before all else; between the kingdom of Netanyahu or the state of Israel.”
Netanyahu faces corruption charges:
“Netanyahu is accused of trading official favors worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Israeli media moguls for illicit gifts of cigars, champagne and jewelry, as well as positive news coverage,” The Times reported. “The current, caretaker government has not formed a House Committee, and there may not be one to discuss a request by Mr. Netanyahu for weeks or months after the March election, until a new government can be formed. Court proceedings against Mr. Netanyahu would be frozen until any immunity request could be heard.”