A lifeline for Litzman? Aussie roof bodies weigh in

Yaakov Litzman in November 2017. Photo: EPA/GALI TIBBON

THE controversial “immunity” legislation won’t just help Bibi. It could prove a lifeline for the politician who is being investigated on suspicion of helping Malka Leifer, a top analyst told The AJN.

If legal authorities conclude that there is a case against Israel’s Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, “he could get immunity, and then not be indicted until he stops being a Knesset member,” according to Amir Fuchs, a constitution expert from the Israel Democracy Institute.

Litzman has been at the centre of a controversy since February, when police started investigating his alleged interference in the Leifer case. An investigative report aired on Israeli TV last week suggested that his office was keen to obtain psychological assessments concluding that Leifer is unfit to stand trial for extradition. 

Fuchs explained that the immunity measures are being discussed in relation to Netanyahu, but would also be relevant for other politicians if and when they face indictment. He said that if police find grounds to continue looking into Litzman, they will investigate further and, if the time comes, conclude that they have enough evidence to indict.

At that point, he said, there would be a pre-indictment hearing and – unless the attorney-general is swayed against indicting – Litzman would be charged. 

It is at this point that, if immunity legislation is passed, then Litzman could benefit from it. The same goes for Netanyahu and others. 

Meanwhile Australian Jewish roof bodies weighed into the fray this week urging Netanyahu to desist from inviting Litzman to join his Coalition. The Executive Council of Australian Jewry issued a statement saying the allegations of executive interference in the judicial process “raise grave questions about the integrity of the handling of the Leifer case in Israel while Mr Litzman remains in any government position. We call upon acting Prime Minister Netanyahu to announce an official inquiry into the allegations, and to confirm that Mr Litzman will not be appointed to any executive office pending the outcome of the inquiry.”

The sentiment was echoed by Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler, who raised concerns over the Leifer affair with Isaac Herzog, chairman of the Jewish Agency, in Jerusalem this week, said, “We call upon acting Prime Minister Netanyahu to ensure that Litzman is not appointed to any public position until the investigation in relation to these allegations is concluded.”