Israel’s parliament will vote on a bill that would ban an indicted prime minister from forming a government. If passed, the law could put an end to the political career of Benjamin Netanyahu, who is charged with fraud and bribery.
“We are submitting the bill that would prevent an indicted person from running for Prime Minister because the current situation can’t continue,” Yair Lapid, the leader of the opposition Yesh Atid-Telem coalition, said.
In November, Netanyahu, who has been in power since 2009, was indicted with fraud, bribery and breach of public trust after he was accused of accepting lavish gifts from businessmen and making deals with media bosses for favorable coverage.
The vote, set for Wednesday, poses a threat to Netanyahu after Benny Gantz, whose Blue and White centrist alliance formed a government coalition with the PM’s Likud party in April, didn’t rule out supporting the legislation. Even if Gantz did support the bill, however, there may not be a majority to pass the legislation.
Netanyahu and Gantz have been in a deadlock over the state budget, which must be passed by August 25, or Israel would be forced to hold its fourth general election since April 2019.
Blue and White are seeking the approval of a long-term budget until 2021, while Likud only wants a financial plan for the next few months, citing uncertainty caused by the coronavirus.
The Covid-19 pandemic has delivered a heavy blow to the Israeli economy. “People have nothing to eat, businesses are closing,” but “all that occupies” PM Netanyahu is his trial, Lapid said, adding that it was a “disgrace.”
Netanyahu’s trial will intensify later this year and holding an election before that will allow the embattled PM to “improve… his legal and personal status,” Gantz argued.
But if the legislation is passed by MPs in the Knesset, Netanyahu would not even be eligible to run in the next election.
For months, Israel has been gripped by protests against the PM, with many outraged by the corruption charges against him and what they regard as the government’s weak response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The latest rally took place outside the PM’s official residence in Jerusalem on Saturday, gathering 15,000 people.
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