Yuli Edelstein and Netanyahu
Yuli Edelstein and NetanyahuNoam Revkin Fenton/Flash90

The Knesset Speaker cannot block the formation of a Knesset committee needed to rule on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s request for parliamentary immunity during a caretaker government prior to the upcoming Knesset election, the Knesset’s legal advisor, Eyal Yinon, argued in a legal opinion Sunday, undermining the Likud’s efforts to delay a vote on the prime minister’s immunity request until the next Knesset is sworn in.

Yinon wrote Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) on Sunday, arguing that the Speaker is unable to block the formation of the Knesset’s House Committee until after the upcoming Knesset election, set for March 2nd.

Yinon penned the opinion after the Supreme Court rejected a petition from the Likud to bar the Knesset legal advisor from publicizing his position on the question.

In his legal opinion Sunday, Yinon argued that despite the Speaker’s veto power during a caretaker government, he is unable to prevent the Knesset’s Arrangements Committee from convening to vote on the formation of permanent Knesset committees, including the House Committee.

The House Committee, which was not formed in either the 21st or 22nd Knessets after both failed to establish a new government, was last formed for the 20th Knesset, which was replaced in April. The House Committee is charged with evaluating requests for parliamentary immunity, such as Prime Minister Netanyahu’s recent request.

The failure of the Knesset to form a House Committee for the 22nd Knesset, however, has thus far left Netanyahu’s immunity request in limbo.

Netanyahu and his allies, including the Knesset Speaker, have sought to delay a Knesset vote on the immunity request until the next Knesset is sworn in, while the Blue and White party has called for an immediate vote on the request.

Blue and White chief Benny Gantz said following the publication of Yinon’s opinion that he had called on MK Avi Nissenkorn, who chairs the Arrangements Committee, to convene the committee as soon as possible in order to form a House Committee for the 22nd Knesset and to rule on the immunity request.

Earlier on Sunday, the Supreme Court ordered Yinon to respond no later than Wednesday afternoon to a Likud petition calling for Yinon to be barred from any involvement in the prime minister’s immunity request.

The Likud filed the petition, accusing Yinon of a conflict of interests in the case, after it was discovered that Yinon’s wife, a member of the Attorney General’s staff, has been working on the investigation against Netanyahu.