Netanyahu impeachment not on the table, Israel's A-G says

"Contrary to what was claimed in the media, I did not hold discussions regarding the impeachment of the prime minister," said Baharav-Miara.

 (L-R) Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (photo credit: OLIVER FITOUSSI/FLASH90, YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
(L-R) Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
(photo credit: OLIVER FITOUSSI/FLASH90, YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara denied reports that her office was considering declaring Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unfit to serve in office due to conflicts of interest stemming from his corruption trials and the proposed judicial reforms.

"Contrary to what was claimed in the media, I did not hold discussions regarding the impeachment of the prime minister," said Baharav-Miara.

Israeli media had reported on Friday evening that the attorney general's office was examining and considering acting on a 2021 ruling that ostensibly would allow Baharav-Miara the ability to declare Netanyahu unable to serve given his violation of the 2020 conflict of interest agreement organized by her predecessor, Avichai Mandelblit.

A-G: Netanyahu's conflict of interest deal still stands

On Thursday, Baharav-Miara announced that the conflict of interest agreement was still in effect.

The agreement conditioned Netanyahu's forming of a government in 2020 and restricted him from making appointments to law enforcement and legal positions, as well as any action that would deliberately impact witnesses in his ongoing corruption trials. Netanyahu is currently under trial in three such cases.

 Arye Deri and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, attend  a Shas Party faction meeting, at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on January 23, 2023. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) Arye Deri and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, attend a Shas Party faction meeting, at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on January 23, 2023. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

NGOs had petitioned the A-G to introduce a new conflict of interest agreement following the announcement of a new judicial reform plan by Justice Minister Yariv Levin at the beginning of January. The judicial reforms propose drastic changes to the way that judges are appointed and the independence of government legal advisors. It also would see implement an Override Clause that would allow the overturning of the High Court of Justice ruling with a simple majority of 61. Critics were concerned that the reforms would impact Netanyahu's trials.

Following the reports, legal experts told The Jerusalem Post that it was highly unlikely such an impeachment would occur, given that it was on tenuous legal grounds, and the social and political capital did not exist for what would have been an unprecedented event in Israeli politics.

It would also have to have been proven that Netanyahu was involved in the reforms, while the prime minister has largely refrained from engaging on the issue.

A-G denial comes following threatening letter by coalition leaders

Baharav-Miara's denial of the reports, which had circulated since Friday, came shortly after a letter sent by coalition leaders warned her against an impeachment of Netanyahu, saying the government will consider such a move an attempted coup d'etat by the Israeli judicial system.

In the letter, the coalition leaders urged Baharav-Miara to not try any "illegal attempts at removing" the prime minister, as they wrote, and "toppling a legally-elected government without even a hint of legal basis to stand on."

No "legal tricks" will stand in the way of the people's will, the coalition leaders wrote, adding that "this is a given" in developed countries. "Most Israeli citizens voted for the coalition factions and the prime minister only a few months ago...the Knesset, as the people's representative, gives its confidence in the government and the prime minister.

"Therefore, nobody has the authority to dismiss the prime minister and topple a legal government except for the people and its representatives, as explicitly stated in Israeli law," the letter reads.

"Any other ruling [by the judicial echelon] is clearly illegal," the coalition leaders asserted.

The letter was signed by Justice Minister Yariv Levin (Likud), Arye Deri (Shas), Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich (Religious Zionists Party), National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir (Otzma Yehudit), Yitzhak Goldknopf (United Torah Judaism) and Avi Maoz (Noam).

Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.