Netanyahu called for term limits – 19 years ago

Since Netanyahu's 1997 remarks, he has gone on to serve as prime minister for more than 10 years cumulatively, from 1996 to 1999 and since 2009.

June 30, 2016 08:25
1 minute read.
Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at a ceremony for fallen soldiers.

Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at a ceremony for fallen soldiers.. (photo credit: KOBI GIDON / GPO)


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A Hebrew video clip from nearly two decades ago of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling for term limits spread like wildfire on Wednesday, reminding the public of the earlier views of the fourth-term leader.

The video that went viral shows Netanyahu in his first term in 1997 being asked by interviewer Dan Shilon how long he would like to serve in the post. Shilon gave choices: four years, eight years, 12, or forever.

“I have an answer for you that is inscribed in stone,” Netanyahu told Shilon. “When I was one of initiators and backers of the Direct Election Law, I asked to add a clause that a prime minister cannot serve more than two terms.”

The Direct Election Law, which allowed the public to choose a prime minister on a separate ballot from their Knesset vote, was repealed in 2001. Netanyahu explained his support for term limits for a prime minister.

“If you don’t get it done in your first term, you might do what you need in the second term, but you don’t need more than that,” he said. “Get things done, and then go home – in a political sense.”

Netanyahu expressed hope in the interview that after serving as prime minister, he would “go do other things.”

Since then, he has gone on to serve as prime minister for more than 10 years cumulatively, from 1996 to 1999 and since 2009. If he stays in office until September 23, 2018, he will pass David Ben-Gurion to become Israel’s longest-serving head of government.

Zionist Union faction head Merav Michaeli has sponsored a bill limiting a prime minister to two terms. It has attracted support from opposition parties as well as from coalition partners Yisrael Beytenu and Bayit Yehudi. But Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett said he would only back the bill if it would only apply to the next prime minister and not to Netanyahu.

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