Netanyahu Appoints Justice Minister Who Supports Immunity From Indictment for Prime Minister

'First LGBTQ minister' and Likud lawmaker Amir Ohana promoted the Nation-State Law, and says Muslims are prone to being 'culturally murderous'

Amir Ohana in the Knesset, Jerusalem, July 18, 2018.
Olivier Fitoussi

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed Likud lawmaker Amir Ohana as justice minister on Wednesday. Political sources told Haaretz that Ohana was appointed because unlike other Likud members, he supports changes that would grant immunity from indictment to acting prime ministers, as Netanyahu is facing possible indictment in three cases of fraud, bribery and breach of trust. 

Ohana is a litigator who interned at the State Prosecutor's Office, and as Likud lawmaker promoted a series of bills, primarily the Nation-State Law, said a statement by Netanyahu, referring to the quasi-constitutional Basic Law which stipulates that Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people.

>> Muslims are prone to 'cultural murderousness' and Israel belongs to the Jews, says lawmaker Amir Ohana

Netanyahu fired Ayelet Shaked from the post on Sunday after she failed to pass the electoral threshold in Israel's April 9 election.

The prime minister currently heads an interim government after failing to form a ruling coalition following the election. The Knesset voted last week to dissolve itself, sending Israel to an unprecedented second election in one year, which is slated to take place on September 17.

In response to Ohana’s appointment to the ministry rather than justice portfolio hopeful Bezalel Smotrich, the Likud spokesperson said: "there goes the halakha state," referring to comments by Smotrich earlier this week which called to revert Israel back to "Operating as it did in the days of King David and King Solomon." 

Following Ohana's appointment, Smotrich tweeted: “Netanyahu wouldn’t treat any other of his allies as he treats the religious-Zionists. It’s time to draw conclusions.”

Likud spokesperson added that members from the Union of Right Wing Parties will soon be appointed ministerial positions.

Israel's LGBTQ Task Force released a statement welcoming the appointment, saying it's a "historic milestone" for the community. They listed three important decisions that are currently under his authority and do not require legislation or government approval: A change in offensive protocols for transgender people in the committee for gender reassignment, a change in discriminatory procedures for recognition of non-biological parents, and the promotion of an inter-ministerial process which would allow single and LGBTQ parents to adopt children from overseas.

"We trust you and expect you to take advantage of the opportunity of being the 'first LGBTQ minister' in order to bring meaningful change to the community," the statement added. 

In an interview with Haaretz in 2017, Ohana said that Muslims are prone to being "culturally murderous." "Who is responsible for the acts of murder and massacre in the world over the past 50 years? Muslims. Not in 100 percent of the cases, but certainly in a clear majority of more than 90 percent," said Ohana. 

Asked whether he would defend Netanyahu if he were to face corruption cases, Ohana said "It depends very much on what the indictment is and on the nature of the evidence. Cigars and champagne are one thing, and something that has to do with submarines ... is something else."