AG pondering declaring Netanyahu unfit as PM due to conflicts of interest

A conflict of interest arrangement prohibits Netanyahu from being involved in legislation that has an impact on the proceedings against him.

 Then-opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu seen entering a vehicle on August 29, 2022 (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
Then-opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu seen entering a vehicle on August 29, 2022
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara and the State Attorney's Office are considering declaring Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unfit to serve due to a conflict of interest created by his government's planned judicial reform, according to Israeli media.

In 2021, the High Court of Justice ruled that a conflict of interest arrangement formulated under then former attorney-general Avichai Mandelblit was binding for Netanyahu.

The arrangement prohibits Netanyahu from being involved in the nomination of judges or of the police commissioner and from being involved in legislation that has an impact on the criminal proceedings against him.

In the ruling, Justice Hanan Meltzer wrote that the attorney general has the exclusive right to decide if the prime minister has violated the conflict of interest arrangement and must therefore be declared unfit to serve.

According to KAN news, the attorney-general's office and the State Attorney's Office believe that Netanyahu is abusing his power in order to advance legislation that could influence the criminal proceedings against him in his favor.

 Newly appointed Attorney General Gali Baharav Miara seen during a welcome ceremony for her in Jerusalem on February 8, 2022. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) Newly appointed Attorney General Gali Baharav Miara seen during a welcome ceremony for her in Jerusalem on February 8, 2022. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Earlier this week, Baharav-Miara stressed that the conflict of interest arrangement Netanyahu made with former attorney-general Avichai Mandelblit is still applicable.

Government advances judicial reform to restrict judicial system

The discussion concerning possibly declaring Netanyahu unfit to serve comes as the government led by Netanyahu prepares judicial reform legislation to restrict the High Court of Justice's ability to overturn legislation based on Israel's Basic Laws.

The latest version of the reform would ban the High Court from disqualifying legislation passed as Basic Laws. The coalition will also be able to pass laws with sections preemptively prohibiting justices from disqualifying the law if it is passed with 61 or more votes in favor.

The reform would require a unanimous position of all 15 High Court judges in order to disqualify legislation. Justices will also be unable to disqualify legislation on the grounds that it violated the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty.

Justices will additionally be blocked from using the reasonableness argument to disqualify legislation or decisions by the government, prime minister, ministers or an elected official.

The reform would also give the coalition a majority in the Judicial Selection Committee.