Netanyahu to Relinquish Ministerial Portfolios in Coming Days

Decision is based on Supreme Court ruling from 1993 which stipulated that then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin should fire indicted minister due to the severity of the charges

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he addresses supporters at his Likud Party headquarters in Tel Aviv, April 10, 2019.
AFP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to relinquish the four ministerial posts he currently holds in the coming days following the indictment against him for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

The four portfolios are health, social affairs, agriculture and Diaspora affairs.

The decision to cede the portfolios is based on a Supreme Court ruling in the Dery-Pinhasi case of 1993, when Minister Arye Dery and Deputy Minister Rafael Pinhasi were forced to leave the cabinet after an indictment.

As of now, Netanyahu does not intend to resign as prime minister. The question of whether the Dery-Pinhasi case also applies to the prime minister  has never been decided in court; Netanyahu's situation is unprecedented. The matter is the subject of a petition to the High Court of Justice.

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Netanyahu was indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three separate criminal cases on Thursday.

The charges come after Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit considered and rejected the arguments of Netanyahu’s legal team in the four-day pre-indictment hearing in October in which they tried to dissuade prosecutors from charging the premier.

Netanyahu now faces the dual challenges of fighting to remain prime minister while grappling with the political deadlock that appears to be leading Israel to a third election within a year.

Following the indictment, Netanyahu launched a full-scale attack on the legal system, accusing it of inherent corruption and of plotting against him.