July 5, 2022

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Bennett Resisting Anti-Netanyahu Bill

3 min read

According to media reports on Sunday, the coalition wants to bring forward a bill that would ban a lawmaker from becoming the prime minister if they are charged with a crime. However, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is reportedly resisting the bill, which if approved, would mean that opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu would not be able to become the premier again. 

Coalition would Collapse

Bennett had reportedly informed his coalition partners that the coalition would collapse if they introduce the bill in the Knesset because it would drive Nir Orbach, the Yamina MK who has already quit the coalition, into the camp of the opposition. 

Orbach had disclosed his resignation on June 13th because of which the coalition is now in a minority in the Knesset, as the opposition has two more seats. However, despite leaving the coalition, Orbach had stated that he would not vote against the government because he wanted an alternative one to be formed from the existing Knesset. 

The report said that bringing such a bill forward could drive Orbach to break his promise and support a bill from the opposition for dispersing the Knesset. Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar is the one who authored the bill and other than Orbach, the Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked is also not in favor of the bill.

The risk may be worth it

According to the report, some coalition members believe that risking their collapse may be worth it and they should try to pass the law. This is because if Netanyahu fails to get the 61-seat majority needed for Knesset dispersal and new elections, then he will not be able to change the law and will not be able to become the premier.

But, the problem with the bill is that it can backfire on the coalition and actually boost support for Netanyahu, who has already claimed that the justice system and media is persecuting him. The amendment has been proposed to the Basic Laws and its implementation would mean that any member of the Knesset who has been indicted for a crime will not be able to form a government. 

The MK would not be able to become an alternative prime minister or be part of a vote of confidence for any government. The position of the alternative prime minister had been created by Netanyahu and Benny Gantz in the previous government and has been carried over in the current one between Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett. 

A minimum sentence of three years is imposed on a public servant who has been convicted of breach of trust or fraud. Meanwhile, a bribery conviction can lead to a fine or 10 years in prison. There are three corruption cases ongoing against Netanyahu. He has been accused of bribery in one of them and breach of trust and fraud in the others. However, the former premier has denied the charges.

This pressure of introducing the anti-Netanyahu bill comes as the Likud party is contemplating bringing forward their own bill of dispersing the Knesset and holding fresh elections. 

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