While Israelis expect their leaders to be as squeaky clean as possible, it’s unfair to subject the prime minister to endless inquiries on minor issues, according to MK David Amsalem (Likud). That’s why he is proposing a law that would prevent investigators from questioning the prime minister in criminal inquiries for infractions that, if he were found guilty, would carry prison sentences of fewer than six months.
Amsalem, who said in a statement that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was not aware of the idea before he publicized it, plans to present the law for a Knesset vote at the beginning of the winter session, after the chagim.
Netanyahu has been investigated numerous times for alleged infractions, and is currently being investigated for allegedly receiving illegal donations during a recent election campaign. That, however, has nothing to do with his bill, said Amsalem. “The timing is irrelevant, because not a day goes by when there is not an investigation of the prime minister. If anyone is concerned about timing, I suggest that they update me on a day when there is no such investigation and I will introduce the bill then.”
According to Amsalem, the bill is necessary because the prime minister’s time is too valuable to deal with “minor issues. He is involved with matters of state, diplomacy, defense, economy and society,” said Amsalem. “He cannot be required to sit and deal with investigations and interrogations every day. This does not go on in other countries, and it cannot be that the leaders of all other countries are righteous, and only in Israel are they criminals. In the past 30 years there has not been one prime minister who has not been criminally investigated.”
With that, he said that any prime minister who is under investigation should be required to make a clear statement on the matter. “The law will include a provision that there will not be a statute of limitations on these matters that would expire while he is in office,” he added.
Commenting on the proposal, MK Itzik Shmueli (Zionist Camp) said that it was “a new level of ignoring and laughing at the law, and of damage to the rule of law. We can just shorten the process and make a law that says that Netanyahu and his descendants will rule Israel forever and no one will have to obey the law. The Likud has crossed a line today, with a recommendation that Israel become a monarchy. At this rate, Israelis will look at Erdogan’s Turkey and wish that they lived in as free a society.”