Knesset members from opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party would be willing to vote for term limits for prime minister if the faction decides to let its MKs vote their conscience.
Likud MKs noted that Netanyahu expressed support for term limits before he became prime minister. The MKs said they were in favor of term limits on principle, regardless of their impact on Netanyahu.
“I am in favor of term limits for the leaders of every country,” MK Israel Katz said. “No one is bigger than George Washington, and he sufficed with eight years. The law in America was changed to a two-term limit after Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I am in favor of doing it here, too, as long as it is not done in a way that is personal.”
Likud MK David Bitan said he, too, has supported limiting a prime minister to eight years before any bill was proposed on the matter.
Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar (New Hope) revealed the draft of his ministry’s term-limits bill on Tuesday. The eight-year limit for prime ministers is not retroactive, which means Netanyahu could still be prime minister for eight more years. He is the only living Israeli who has served eight years as prime minister.
“The responsibility to limit terms is part of the coalition guidelines,” Sa’ar said. “A prolonged rule brings with it a concentration of power and risk of corruption. Therefore, the term-limitation principle needs to be included in the Basic Law.”
Katz said he would oppose another bill that Sa’ar intends to propose by the end of the month that would prevent anyone indicted from forming a government. That bill, which would take effect with the next Knesset, would rule out Netanyahu.
Other Likud MKs said they would oppose both bills. MK Tzachi Hanegbi said voters should have the right to choose their leader.
“The people can decide for themselves if they want Merkel for 16 years,” he said.
MKs Yoav Kisch and Keti Shitrit said they were also against the bills.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz reacted to the first term-limit bill on social media, tweeting, “Blue and White submitted the bill, which is a fundamental part of the party’s platform, in every one of the recent Knesset forums.” He congratulated Sa’ar on the move, adding, “We will do everything necessary so that the bill passes and becomes a law of the State of Israel.”
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, joined the congratulations.
“This is an important law that will keep the leadership clean of corruption,” said Lapid.
But Meretz MK Gaby Lasky said she was disappointed that it did not retroactively rule out Netanyahu running.
“The one person in the country who the bill doesn’t apply to is Benjamin Netanyahu,” Lasky said.