Israeli lawmakers today approved the formation of a committee to consider Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request for legal immunity from prosecution.
The move is being seen as a major setback for the embattled leader who is seeking to fend off corruption charges. Netanyahu’s opponents make up a majority in the current caretaker parliament.
Netanyahu was charged in November with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in three cases involving trading political and regulatory favors for positive news coverage, and accepting gifts from billionaire friends.
Netanyahu has tried to delay the vote on immunity until after March 2 elections, when he hopes a more sympathetic slate of lawmakers will be chosen. He has denied any wrongdoing. He called the charges against him an attempted coup by law enforcement.
Benjamin Netanyahu, who has led the government for 11 years, has served as caretaker prime minister for the past year after twice failing to form a coalition after elections in April and September.
Israel is now heading into an unprecedented third election in under a year