Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a session of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem in 2017..
(photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN / REUTERS)
The opposition did not succeed in passing two bills that would set a limit for prime ministers of two consecutive terms.
The bills rejected on Wednesday, which were proposed by Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid and MK Merav Michaeli (Zionist Union), would not have applied to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s current term in office or his previous ones. Netanyahu, who openly supported term limits in the 1990s, did not participate in the vote, because he is at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Lapid told the Knesset plenum that Netanyahu’s behavior justifies his bill every day. His bill’s explanatory notes say that the legislation is intended to prevent Israel from becoming a monarchy.
“It is rare that there is a bill whose necessity is proven by a live, consistent example like this one with blatantly clear evidence why a prime minister’s term must be limited, and the proof is the prime minister,” Lapid said. “Netanyahu once put the good of the State of Israel before his own good and today he puts himself before the State of Israel.”
Michaeli said that having too much power for too long can make a prime minister corrupt. She said too much of what Netanyahu does nowadays he does to stay in power.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) responded on behalf of the government that on one hand, the legislation could encourage prime ministers to implement their vision quicker. But on the other hand, the bills harm the will of the people. She said comparisons made by the opposition to the US were not correct because the president of the US is much more powerful than the prime minister.
“Democracy is the government of the people in the deepest and most fundamental way, and these bills are attempting to take away from the people their right to vote for whom they want,” Shaked told the plenum.
Shaked’s party, Bayit Yehudi, has expressed support for term limits in the past.
The bills fell by a vote of 44 to 37.