Bill preventing Netanyahu from returning as PM drafted by Sa'ar

According to Sa'ar's new bill, anyone under a serious indictment would be prevented from forming a government.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sits at the plenum at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem May 30, 2019. (photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sits at the plenum at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem May 30, 2019.
(photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)

A new bill that would prevent anyone under a serious indictment from forming a government, was published by Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar on Tuesday.

According to the bill, which would take effect with the next Knesset, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu could not be tasked by the president with building a coalition.

Netanyahu, or anyone else indicted for a crime that carries a three-year sentence, also could not serve as an alternate prime minister.

However, there is a loophole in the bill that could allow Netanyahu to overturn it with the support of 61 MKs and then form a government.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) has expressed that she opposes the bill, while the view of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett remains unclear.

Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen through a glass panel sitting in the Knesset seat as new leader of the Opposition.  (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen through a glass panel sitting in the Knesset seat as new leader of the Opposition. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Sa'ar has also drafted a bill for term limits, and both bills will be legislated after the state budget passes.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid responded that it should be obvious that anyone under indictment cannot be prime minister if they cannot be a security guard.

The Justice Minister's bill is "almost a foregone conclusion," he said.

"It cannot be that there are indictments against drivers, security guards, medical staff and the PM's housekeepers, but the prime minister can serve with an indictment. A suspected criminal cannot be prime minister in a proper country. A personal example, morality, and honesty are cornerstones of leadership," he wrote.  

Bezalel Smotrich, head of the Religious Zionist party, attacked Sa'ar and called the bill "clearly undemocratic".

"[Sa'ar's] hatred for Netanyahu... is bringing him to a targetted killing of the Israeli democracy."

The Likud responded that the bills are undemocratic and belong in Iran, not Israel. Netanyahu's party noted the irony that Sa'ar's party barely crosses the threshold in polls while Likud is predicted to win as many as 35 seats.

"(The bill) is simply shameful," the Likud said.