16:43 GMT08 April 2020
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    Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will have a hard time forming a government, even if such an opportunity is given to him, believes the former deputy to Israel's state prosecutor. Nor will he be given immunity, not only because of various factions' staunch objections but also because of Israel's dysfunctional Parliament.

    Israel's Attorney General Avichai Mandelblitt has said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can remain in his post, despite mounting pressure from opposition circles urging the premier to step down, and Yehuda Shaffer, the former deputy to Israel's State Prosecutor, says the move has a strong rationale behind it.

    "The law is very specific about whether a prime minister can keep his post under indictment, and it explicitly says that it is possible until there is a final conviction," he said, adding that the resignation of the Prime Minister would prompt the dissolution of the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, for the third time in just one year.

    Netanyahu, who has been indicted for fraud, breach of trust and bribery, has been blaming what he calls the left-wing media and the flawed judiciary system and accusing them of a witch-hunt.

    But Shaffer believes that these claims are nonsense. "Mandelblitt has no agenda. From the very beginning, this case has been dealt with a lot of caution, with every witness checked and with every claim of the defence heard," he said. 

    Immunity: To Give or Not to Give?

    Another question that begs to be answered, says Shaffer, is the issue of Netanyahu's immunity. 

    According to the Israeli law, and unlike in cases of ordinary citizens, where an indictment lands on the desk of the police clerks, an indictment against the Prime Minister will have to gain the approval of the Knesset.

    Several factions, including the Joint Arab List and Avigdor Liberman's Israel Beitenu party, have already promised not to give Netanyahu the immunity he needs to avoid a potential trial.

    However, Shaffer says the issue of immunity might not even reach the Israeli Parliament, simply because the committee that's supposed to deal with such requests has not yet been established, and it is not yet clear whether it will be established at all.

    "Netanyahu knows this and plays his cards very smartly. That's why the opposition is right when they say that Netanyahu is using the system to promote his agenda and escape trial. He is benefiting from every delay," he concluded.

    Not Another Round:

    Politicians from right, left and centre vowed to do everything in their power to prevent another round of elections that have cost the Israeli public more than $700 million but there are growing doubts as to whether a vote can be avoided.

    Meanwhile, Benjamin Netanyahu says he is continuing to hold talks with representatives of the rival Blue and White party in an attempt to form a coalition, efforts that so far have been proven fruitless. 

    But Shaffer believes that even if Netanyahu does manage to form a coalition, doubts remain as to whether such an opportunity will be presented to him by the country's President Reuven Rivlin, specifically because it is not clear whether "Rivlin will have a legal right to task Netanyahu with forming a government, [given his indictment]," said Shaffer. 

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    Reuven Rivlin, Likud Party, Knesset, indictment, Israel
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