Ex-chief justice: If the prime minister is indicted, he must resign

"You do not always need a line that says you must resign. You should understand what is expected of you.”

November 23, 2017 18:00
2 minute read.
Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

If a prime minister is indicted, he must resign, former chief justice Aharon Barak said Thursday at the Israel Bar Association Haifa Conference.

“I think that a public servant, including the prime minister, if he is indicted, is obligated to resign. He cannot continue in his job,” Barak said against the background of a potential future indictment against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is being investigated by police on corruption charges.

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Pressed by a conference panel moderator asking whether the law explicitly obligates the prime minister to resign, Barak responded that past High Court of Justice decisions compelling Arye Deri and Rafael Pinhasi to resign as ministers when they were indicted apply to the prime minister as well.

“We always ask if the statute obligates [resignation] or not,” he said. “But the question should be: What does a public servant need to do? You do not always need a line that says you must resign. You should understand what is expected of you.”

“If a petition is filed, perhaps the current High Court will say, ‘We do not decide these things.’ But I am not a fan of this position,” Barak said.

Netanyahu is currently a suspect in two police investigations.

In Case 1000, which has been dubbed the “gifts affair,” it is suspected that he received expensive gifts from various businessmen. It is currently being investigated whether he did anything for the givers of the gifts in return.

The second is Case 2000, or the “Yediot Aharonot affair,” in which it is suspected that Netanyahu negotiated with Yediot Aharonot publisher Arnon “Noni” Mozes for favorable coverage, in return for which he would act to weaken its competitor Israel Hayom.

Police also are conducting another investigation in which Netanyahu is not a suspect, though his inner circle, including his personal lawyer and special diplomatic envoy, are suspects. Case 3000, also known as the “submarines affair,” is a corruption investigation into Israel’s purchase of German-made naval vessels.

Separately, Israel Police announced Thursday that it will recommend indicting former deputy head of the National Security Council Avriel Bar-Yosef on bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges.

Bar-Yosef also is considered to be a major figure in Case 3000, but this indictment relates to another corruption case in which he allegedly received a bribe from a German businessman in return for which he advanced the businessman’s interests while he was acting as deputy head of the National Security Council and while he was being promoted to head of the council, though the promotion eventually was canceled.

According to a police statement, the bribe money is suspected to have come from the German businessman through an investment he made in a company owned by relative of Bar-Yosef.

It is suspected that Bar-Yosef was advancing the businessman’s interests in several ways, including in the intra-ministerial “Tzemach Committee,” which was examining Israel’s natural gas policy.

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