Israel Election: Gantz Bloc Mulls Law Barring Indicted Netanyahu From Forming Gov't

Even if Gantz's bloc can't form a government, it's likely that the majority may allow it to push for legislation; Bennett: They are trying to circumvent the will of the people

Jonathan Lis
Netael Bandel
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A frame from an Election Day campaign video published by Netanyahu, March 3, 2020.
A frame from an Election Day campaign video published by Netanyahu, March 3, 2020.Credit: מתוך עמוד הפייסבו
Jonathan Lis
Netael Bandel

Benny Gantz's Kahol Lavan party and the Labor-Meretz-Gesher are considering legislation to prevent Benjamin Netanyahu from serving as prime minister in the next term – taking advantage of what is shaping up to be a majority of lawmakers who oppose him.

"We'll have a majority in the new Knesset to pass a law preventing a prime minister from serving under indictment," said Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz. "It reflects the will of the public, and it's the moral thing to do."

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Though final election results are not in yet, it is likely the center-left bloc, together with the Arab Joint List and Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu will garner 61 or 62 seats. This would allow them to push for legislation in the Knesset, even if forming a coalition remains a near-impossibility.

Leaders of Kahol Lavan address supporters following publication of exit polls on election night, March 3, 2020.
Leaders of Kahol Lavan address supporters following publication of exit polls on election night, March 3, 2020.Credit: Daniel Bar-On

Naftali Bennett, head of the Yamina party (part of Netanyahu's right-wing bloc) pushed back against the initiative, calling it "anti-democratic" and saying it amounts to "spitting in the face of half of the country." "Two days ago there were elections," he said, "and they are already trying to circumvent the will the people."

Netanyahu's trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three graft cases is set to begin on March 17.

Also bashing the initiative, Ultra-orthodox Shas party leader Arye Dery said that "passing a personal-tailored law to prevent Benjamin Netanyahu from serving as prime minister after the public has expressed its faith [in Netanyahu] is a disgrace and breaking the rules of the political game."

Slamming Gantz's party, Dery said that "Kahol Lavan are prepared to sacrifice the country and the unity of the nation in favor of their personal hatred for Netanyahu, which unites Lieberman and the Joint List." 

Echoing Dery's remarks, Likud lawmaker Miki Zohar said that "after losing the election to us, [Kahol Lavan] are trying to undermine democracy through a personally-tailored law against Netanyahu. It's a disgrace."

Likud lawmaker Miri Regev also attacked Gantz and Joint List MK Ahmed Tibi, saying "Tibi is sticking to his promise to overthrow Netanyahu and Likud and to control Benny Gantz, who is cracking under the pressure by giving in to the Joint List."

Regev added that "The legislation led by Tibi and Gantz is nothing less than a coup. We won't let this happen." 

Meanwhile, Israel’s High Court rejected a petition seeking to oblige legal advisers to the government to submit an opinion on whether Netanyahu should be allowed to lead a government given the three pending indictments against him. 

The petition, filed by The Movement for Quality Government in Israel, also sought to issue an interim order freezing the president's decision on who to task with forming the next government until the legal advisers issue a detailed opinion on the matter. 

Justice Noam Solberg wrote in his ruling that the petition cannot be accepted before the president decides who will be tasked with forming the next government.  

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