JERUSALEM (VINnews) — Israeli Justice Minister Gidon Sa’ar revealed Tuesday the text of a bill which would bar a Knesset member charged with a serious crime from forming a government. If the bill is approved by the Knesset it could prevent former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu from returning to power.
Sa’ar’s proposed amendment to Israel’s Basic Laws would bar Knesset members indicted for crimes with a minimum three-year sentence in jail from being allowed to form a government. The proposed law would take effect after the next elections, when a new Knesset is sworn in.
“We must prepare better governance regulations for the future, which fortify Israel’s values,” Sa’ar said in a statement. “We are obligated to prevent a return of the situation Israel experienced recently.”
It is unclear whether Sa’ar’s proposal would succeed in garnering the support of the required 61 MKs needed to change a basic law. Ayelet Shaked, a member of the government, has already expressed her opposition to the bill, stating that “attorney-generals should not decide who can form a government.” MK Nir Orbach, a member of Bennett’s party, also opposes the bill. On the other hand, the Joint Arab list which is not part of the coalition has said that it will support the bill. The Ra’am party and Finance Minister Lieberman have not decided whether to support the bill.
The proposal does not name Netanyahu, but it is clear that the former prime minister would be barred from forming a government if it became law. Netanyahu is on trial for fraud, breach of trust and bribery, all carrying a minimum sentence of at least three years in jail.
Netanyahu’s Likud party denounced the proposal.
“Sa’ar, who is scraping the bottom of the electoral threshold in all polls, is proposing an anti-democratic law in the style of Iran, which seeks to rule out the person supported by millions of citizens… embarrassing,” it said in a statement.
However in 2008 Netanyahu himself as well as Likud members supported a similar bill proposed to prevent prime minister Ehud Olmert, who was at the time being investigated for crimes of bribery which later led to his indictment and conviction, from serving as prime minister. At the time, MK Chaim Katz of the Likud warned that the same bill could be used against Netanyahu himself if he became prime minister – a warning which came true a decade later.
Sa’ar himself claims that Prime Minister Bennett, who has not spoken out on the issue, had given him the green light to release details of the bill. A member of Sa’ar’s party submitted a bill similar to the 2008 proposition which would bar a prime minister from continuing to serve if he is indicted for serious crimes.