Eli Cohen
Eli Cohen Kobi Richter, TPS

Economy Minister Eli Cohen (Likud) on Tuesday told Channel 12 that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu does not intend to request parliamentary immunity from the Knesset.

"In recent days I held conversations with the Prime Minister and I heard him say explicitly that he does not intend to come and request immunity," Cohen said. "Netanyahu fully believes that he is innocent, and he says, 'I'm willing to come and stand trial.'"

Cohen also blamed Blue and White leader MK Yair Lapid for foiling attempts at a unity government.

"[Blue and White Chairman MK Benny] Gantz is held hostage by Lapid, who wants elections. Lapid understands that if they form a unity government with the Likud, which is what the nation wants and the recent elections showed that, he won't be prime minister. Gantz needs to make a decision as a leader, and accept the Likud's offer."

Blue and White's MK Meir Cohen responded harshly, saying: "The ministers are sitting in their studios and squirming uncomfortably. They know the truth, that Binyamin Netanyahu needs to go. They've said that. Now they're sitting in their chairs and it seems that this kind of confuses them, they're starting to act like rhinoceroses."

He also denied that Lapid is foiling efforts at a unity government: "That's a spin, it's a shame the media has turned it into fact. Blue and White has a lot of opinions and that's legitimate, but there is one party stance. Benny Gantz is the party's leader and he made an excellent decision, in my opinion, by telling Binyamin Netanyahu, 'Mr., I am offering you a rotation. I will begin and serve as prime minister and you will go, prove yourself innocent, and return with honor to become part of the State of Israel's rulership."

Lapid, who would have served as prime minister for the last 1.5 years of a Blue and White-led government, refused to give up his rotation deal until after the second round of elections was held. However, despite his apparent willingness for Blue and White and Likud to agree on a rotation deal without him, he has repeatedly stated that he will not sit in a coalition headed by PM Netanyahu.

MK Moshe Ya'alon, another of Blue and White's four leaders, promised last year "never to join a coalition" headed by Netanyahu. Both he and Lapid oppose the unity government, unless Netanyahu resigns.