Israeli Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: REUTERS/GALI TIBBON/POOL)
New coalition chairman David Amsalem started his tenure with a surprising statement Saturday when he told the Bar Association in Eilat: that "a prime minister of the State of Israel who has been indicted for bribery cannot serve as prime minister."
Amsalem balanced out what he said by adding that he did not believe the investigation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the expensive gifts affair, known as Case 1000, is legitimate.
"I think that in a reasonable democratic regime that is logical and balanced, you don’t investigate a prime minister who received cigars from a friend," Amsalem said. "It is absurd, and it creates a slippery slope. Tomorrow, why don’t we arrest and question a prime minister if he received a few pieces of chocolate. After all, the law is the same for a penny and a fortune."
Zionist Union faction chairman Yoel Hasson endorsed what Amsalem said and took it further.
"Any indictment of a prime minister is grave and should prevent him from continuing to serve," Hasson said. "A country cannot be run from the chair of the indicted."
Amsalem responded to the uproar over his statement by writing on Twitter: "I am sorry to disappoint the Left and the press but this is my point of view: The police recommendations have no legal or public weight. From my perspective, bribery is receiving envelopes with forbidden money, not cigars from a personal friend. So the indictment that I spoke about is not relevant at all to the prime minister."
Likud MK Yoav Kisch told Netanyahu Saturday
night that he decided to accept Netanyahu's offer to replace Amsalem as chairman of the Knesset Interior and Environment Committee.
''It was not a simple dilemma,'' said Kisch, regarding his decision to leave his post as Knesset House Committee chairman. ''I chose the Interior Committee because it deals with important issues like municipalities, internal security, and the environment and can be a base for improving the lives of Israeli citizens."