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Israeli press review: Knesset to decide on Netanyahu's immunity before election

Meanwhile, defence ministry admits killing of Palestinian mother was 'aggressive act', and Meretz-Labor pact a 'slap on the face of the Arab community'
Israel's attorney general has indicted Netanyahu on charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust, which he denies (AFP)

Netanyahu immunity on the agenda

Israeli Knesset members discussed on Monday the parliamentarian immunity of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - who has been charged with fraud and bribery - local media reported.

This is the first meeting to discuss Netanyahu’s request for immunity, and the decision scheduled in the upcoming days will affect the standing of Netanyahu's party, Likud, in upcoming legislative elections in March.

Last November, Netanyahu became the first Israeli prime minister to be indicted while in office, as he was charged on three counts of corruption.

Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced that the charges against Netanyahu included breach of trust, fraud and bribery.

Netanyahu rejected what he called "false accusations" that were "politically motivated".

In December, Netanyahu won the votes of a majority of Likud members in internal party elections.

Likud’s main rivals are the Blue and White political alliance led by former army chief Benny Gantz, and the Yisrael Beiteinu party led by Avigdor Lieberman.

Killing of Palestinian woman 'an aggressive act'

Israel’s defence ministry admitted on Monday that the killing of Palestinian mother Aisha al-Rabi by an Israeli settler in 2018 was “an aggressive act,” Ynet reported.

Rabi, 48, was in the car with her husband Yaqoub and their nine-year-old daughter heading home to the West Bank village of Biddya, close to the illegal Israeli settlement of Rechalim, when their vehicle was pelted by stones on 12 October 2018.

Rabi sustained a fatal wound as she was struck with a large rock on the side of the head.

“The killing of Aisha al-Rabi after throwing stones at the car she was sitting in is considered an aggressive act that happened for nationalist reasons,” Ynet quoted the Israeli defence ministry as saying.

In January 2019, prosecutors charged an Israeli 16-year-old with manslaughter in the case.

Mohammed Rahal, the lawyer of the Rabi family, told Ynet that the defence ministry's statement provided another reason to continue with legal proceedings against the perpetrator.

“The Israeli defence ministry was forced to admit that the crime was a terrorist act, and this is a big achievement, although there are no confessions from the criminals,” Rahal said.

He added that he would push for financial compensation, as well as ask the Israeli court to demolish the house of the settler charged with Rabi's death - a measure regularly used against Palestinians accused or suspected of carrying out attacks against Israelis.

Meretz-Labor alliance sparks discontent

Former Knesset member Issawi Frej reacted to the Meretz political party's decision to rank him 11th on the united electoral list between Meretz and Labor as a “a slap on the face of the Arab community.”

As Israel gears up for a third consecutive election, the Meretz and Labor parties have agreed to run on one list in March.

In an interview with Kan news network, Frej said that he welcomes the unity list, but criticised the listing of a representative of the "Arab community" so low on the list, making his accession to the Knesset extremely unlikely.

Frej took issue with the decision to place Yair Golan, a former Israeli army commander, fourth on the list - noting that Palestinian voters inside Israel had given Meretz 42,000 votes in the last election.

“We saved the party, and this a slap on the face to tell the Arab community: you will get the 11th place. Throwing all the Arab-Jewish partnership in the trash,” Frej said.

Frej, who came in fourth during the Meretz primary election, said that he would meet senior party officials to bring a “democratic choice” to the unity efforts with the Labor party.

* Israeli press review is a digest of reports that are not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye.