Benny Gantz promises legislation to ban PM from serving under indictment

Blue and White leader promises raft of anti-corruption measures following announcement of Netanyahu’s March 17 court date.

BENNY GANTZ (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Blue and White Party leader MK Benny Gantz pledged on Wednesday to introduce a raft of anti-corruption measures including legislation to ban a prime minister from serving while under indictment.
Speaking during a press conference Gantz said that these measures would be anchored into the guiding principles of any government he might head, and that the anti-corruption plan itself would be drawn up by a team of experts under the authority of the Prime Minister’s Office.
Gantz’s declaration comes following the announcement yesterday of the date, March 17, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial is scheduled to begin in the Jerusalem District Court.
Among the measures the Blue and White leader said he intends to introduce is a law prohibiting a prime minister from serving in his position if they have been indicted for “severe criminal  offenses.”
Gantz said that he would also introduce an amendment to a current law that would permanently prevent someone convicted of corruption involving a crime of moral turpitude from serving in a public position, whereas the current law bans someone for seven years if convicted.
He also said that the authority to grant immunity from prosecution to members of Knesset would be transferred from the Knesset itself to an “external, professional, public committee.”
Gantz added that he would also demand coalition support for a law he has already submitted to the Knesset restricting a prime minister to a maximum of eight years in power.
“Israel is a corrupt country. The majority of its elected officials on the left and right do their work faithfully out of a sense of duty,” said Gantz.
“Netanyahu, however, does not want to address security concerns for the residents of the south, doesn’t want to reduce houses prices, or deal with the public health crisis. After we prevented him from obtaining immunity, Netanyahu wants one thing, to form a coalition that will allow him to pass a law that will prohibit putting a prime minister on trial. Netanyahu is enslaving an entire country in order to avoid justice.”
In response, Netanyahu called Gantz a coward for ducking a televised debate with him.
“If Gantz is afraid of coming to debate with the prime minister how will he stand up to the great challenges of the State of Israel?”
Later on Wednesday, Gantz addressed the Conference of Presidents annual leadership mission and reached out to the US Jewish community with a pledge to implement the frozen Western Wall agreement and adopt greater religious pluralism in Israel.
“I will do everything in my power to rebuild the bond with all Jewish religious movements,” said Gantz.
“I will embrace all streams of Judaism in Israel and promote a swift implementation of the Western Wall agreement. I will make sure all the members of our family feel welcome and heard in their home. They deserve no less.”
And he also promised that the State of Israel would assist Diaspora Jewry in the face of heightened antisemitism in many countries in Europe, the US, and beyond.
“This year has served as proof: antisemitism is not a thing of the past. These are new faces of the same old hatred that cast its shadow on our people in Spain of 1492, and in Germany of 1933. In the pogroms of Kishinev and those in Fez,” said the Blue and White leader.
“Today, the IDF is a military power unlike any other, and Israel is a force on a global scale, serving not only as the homeland of the Jewish people; but as their protective shield.  As long as there is an Israel, it will fight to protect every Jew at risk, near and far. That is what family does.”