Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced on Monday evening that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will not be required to resign as premier, nor will he have to take a leave of absence, because of the indictments being filed against him.
“There is no practical relevance for a prime minister’s resignation during an interim government,” Mandelblit wrote in a formal legal opinion, since the law states that a prime minister who resigns continues to serve as prime minister until a new government is formed.
“Therefore, it is clear that in the situation of a caretaker government, it cannot be said that a prime minister is legally obligated to resign from that post,” he explained in a statement released by the Justice Ministry.
Regarding leave of absence, he cited a High Court ruling to the effect that it was a political question, not a legal one.
“Therefore, in the current circumstances, the question of a temporary leave of absence should likewise be left in the political-public sphere and there is no justification at this time for the attorney general to rule that the prime minister is unable to carry out his duties,” the statement said.
Mandelblit heads a panel of Justice Ministry officials including senior state prosecutors which has been convened to decide on this and other related questions, such as whether Netanyahu can form a new government and whether he must give up his other ministerial portfolios during the period of litigation.
The panel has not yet deliberated the latter questions, according to a statement just released.
However, whatever the panel concludes, all of these issues may be ultimately be ruled on by Israel’s High Court, as Mandelblit himself has noted in the past.
Updated Monday, November 25, 2019 at 2:15 pm add statement