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Netanyahu withdraws request for immunity from corruption charges

Mr Netanyahu was indicted on counts of fraud, breach of trust and bribery in November in three separate cases.

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Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu (Aaron Chown/PA)

Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu (Aaron Chown/PA)

Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu (Aaron Chown/PA)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has withdrawn his request for immunity from prosecution hours before Knesset proceedings were set to begin.

In a statement issued on his official Facebook page, Mr Netanyahu, who is visiting Washington ahead of the launch of President Trump’s peace plan, said he “decided not to let this dirty game continue”.

The Knesset was set to convene to discuss the formation of a committee to debate the prime minister’s request for immunity from prosecution.

Mr Netanyahu was indicted on counts of fraud, breach of trust and bribery in November in three separate cases.

He has denied any wrongdoing.

Mr Netanyahu’s Likud party was planning to boycott the Knesset session.

“In this fateful hour for the people of Israel, when I am in the United States on a historic mission to design the permanent borders of Israel and ensure our security for decades to come, the Knesset is expected to open another exhibition in the circus of removing immunity,” Mr Netanyahu wrote.

His chief political opponent Benny Gantz, who leads the Blue and White party, said in a statement that “Netanyahu is going to trial – we must go forward”.

“Nobody could run a country and simultaneously manage three serious criminal charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust,” Mr Gantz added.

Mr Netanyahu and President Trump were scheduled to meet on Tuesday at the White House for the announcement of the Trump administration’s long-anticipated peace plan.

Mr Netanyahu’s retraction of his immunity request paves the way for legal proceedings against the prime minister to go forward with the country’s third parliamentary elections scheduled for March 2.

The Knesset was still expected to assemble despite Mr Netanyahu’s withdrawal of his request to form the committee, which will also address former welfare minister Haim Katz’s request for immunity from prosecution in his own corruption cases.

PA