Immunity in the Israeli News: Against the Flu, For Netanyahu

  • Prime Minister Netanyahu will request immunity from prosecution in the graft charges against him.
  • Israel held two inconclusive elections in 2019, largely centered on immunity.
  • Benny Gantz and Avigdor Lieberman, the opposition to Netanyahu, are against giving immunity to Netanyahu.

When you hear the word immunity being used in the Israeli media, it can be confusing as to which type of immunity is being discussed. In Israel, there is a flu epidemic, which has already taken several lives. Health organizations in Israel have a surge of people showing up for flu vaccinations in the wake of four deaths within the past week, and dozens of others that have recently been hospitalized with serious illness from the virus. Eleven people have died since the beginning of the 2018-19 flu season and 98 are in the hospital with serious conditions. The nine who have died were from complications from swine flu.

In the previous, inconclusive Israeli elections in September 2019, Blue & White, led by Benny Gantz (right) won 33 seats in the Knesset. Likud, led by Benjamin Netanyahu (left) won 32 seats.

The word immunity used in the news media might also be connected to Israeli politics, in which Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister, is requesting immunity against false allegations against him.  Netanyahu, like President Trump, is in the middle of indictment proceedings, which have interfered in Israeli elections this year. Israel held two elections in 2019, which have not resulted in a coalition government on either side.  A coalition requires a majority of at least 61 seats in the Knesset.

There has been a possibility of forming a national unity government, including both Likud, led by Netanyahu, and Blue & White, led by Benny Gantz. However, Netanyahu’s indictment has interfered. Neither side has been able to get together because of this question. Netanyahu should have to step down as Prime Minister, if indicted, because he does not have immunity as the nation’s leader. Gantz would be willing to join Netanyahu and make a government if Netanyahu would agree to step down after indictment.

In the Knesset, Netanyahu has requested a new statute to give immunity to him, or any other public servant, to protect them from false allegations.  Benny Gantz and Avigdor Lieberman, the opposition to Netanyahu, are against giving immunity to public officials, and have instructed respective party lawmakers to vote against the move.

Avigdor Lieberman, chair of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, stated he will oppose any attempt to grant immunity to Netanyahu.

There are three graft cases against Netanyahu. The deadline for requesting immunity actions is only a few hours away. Netanyahu wants immunity.  He stated, “I will stand in court to crush all the unfounded allegations against me.  The immunity law will protect public officials from false allegation to insure that they will be able to serve the public’s will, and not the will of bureaucrats.”

In response to Netanyahu’s request for immunity, Benny Gantz made a statement in opposition. “Netanyahu knows he is guilty, a person who believes he is innocent is not afraid to stand trial.  Either we will have a radical immunity government or a unified national one. Immunity is not the bedrock of democracy, it is a detriment to democracy.” Avigdor Lieberman, chairman of Yisrael Beiteinu, stated that he will vote against Netanyahu and immunity for public officials. Immunity stands in the way of Israel making a unified government.

Immunity is a good thing for people when used in medicine to prevent disease. In politics, the benefits of giving immunity to public officials is uncertain. For sure bureaucrats can take advantage and abuse the rights to freedom of the press which may damage national unity. America and Israel are again tied together on this very controversial issue.

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David Wexelman

Author of 5 books on the internet on topics of Jewish mysticism, managing two websites.

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