President Reuven Rivlin (right) is interviewed by TV journalist Amit Segal yesterday at the 15th annual Jerusalem Conference of the Besheva Group.
(photo credit: MARK NEIMAN)
President Reuven Rivlin became the highest-ranking figure in Israel to suggest that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should resign if he is indicted by Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit. He made his comments during an onstage interview at Monday’s Jerusalem Conference of the right-wing newspaper Besheva.
Police are expected sometime in the next week or so to recommend indicting Netanyahu for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in Case 1000, the so-called “expensive gift affair.” Mandelblit is likely to take several months to decide whether to issue the indictment.
Legally, Netanyahu can remain in office if indicted, unless his coalition partners refuse to continue to serve under him and ask the president to initiate early elections. When former prime minister Ehud Olmert faced a similar situation, his partners had already forced him out following the police recommendation to indict him.
Asked by interviewer Amit Segal whether Netanyahu could continue to serve under indictment, Rivlin made reference to Netanyahu’s calls to oust Olmert at the time.
“I will give my opinion only in three and a half years,” he said, referring to when his term ends. “But in the past, many senior politicians expressed their views clearly on what happens when there is an indictment, and my opinion was certainly influenced by them.”
Rivlin said a prime minister “must be busy making decisions” and “has an obligation to govern,” implying that if Netanyahu would be indicted, he would be too busy to govern.
The president mocked Netanyahu, saying he must have forgotten that he was the one who appointed Israel Police Insp.-Gen. Roni Alsheich, with whom Netanyahu is currently openly sparring. Rivlin said he supported the appointment.
Regarding publicizing the recommendations that the police will make to Mandelblit, Rivlin said the public’s right to know had become a fundamental right.
Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay called on Monday for Netanyahu to urge Mandelblit to expedite his decision whether to indict.
The Zionist Union proposed a no-confidence motion in Netanyahu’s government over the prime minister’s alleged corruption. The motion was defeated by a wide margin after Yesh Atid decided to oppose it due to the ongoing security situation in the North.
“As long as the security situation goes on, there should not be no-confidence motions,” Lapid said. “There are things more important than coalition and opposition.”
But Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni said the security situation was over and should no longer be allowed to overshadow what she called “the prime minister’s campaign against the State of Israel and its institutions.”
In her Knesset speech introducing the no-confidence motion, Livni said: “Now [Netanyahu] is attacking the police
. Next it will be the attorney-general and then the courts when the Supreme Court forces him to quit.”
The motion was defeated by a 53-38 vote.