A legislative proposal to impose term limits on the prime minister was defeated in the Knesset on Wednesday by a vote of 44 to 37.
While the bill would not have affected Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, opposition MKs made it clear that he was the reason for it.
MK Yair Lapid, a co-sponsor, told the plenum plainly that the bill was inspired by Mr. Netanyahu:
“It is rare that there is a bill whose necessity is proven by a live, consistent example like this one, with blatantly clear evidence why a prime minister’s term must be limited, and the proof is the prime minister,” Lapid said. “Netanyahu once put the good of the state of Israel before his own good, and today he puts himself before the state of Israel.”
The bill’s explanatory notes say that it is intended to prevent Israel from becoming a monarchy.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) answered for the coalition, arguing that a term limit would thwart the will of the people as expressed in elections. She rejected the opposition’s comparison to the two-term limit on U.S. presidents, on the grounds that the latter are much more powerful and cannot be compared to Israeli prime ministers, who must seek to implement their programs under the constraints of parliamentary politics.
“Democracy is the government of the people in the deepest and most fundamental way, and these bills are attempting to take away from the people their right to vote for whom they want,” Shaked told the plenum.
Mr. Netanyahu himself was absent from the voting because he was attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Now in his fourth term, Mr. Netanyahu has been prime minister since 2009, previously holding the position from 1996 to 1999.