Yisrael Beytenu Proposes Law Requiring Indicted PM to Quit

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu holds a press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office in Yerushalayim. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

With the Knesset back in session, Yisrael Beytenu on Tuesday proposed the first bill of the 23rd Knesset: A law that would require a prime minister who has been indicted for a crime to resign.

The party, along with Blue and White, has been planning to introduce the motion for some time. The law, which does not mention prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu by name, requires a prime minister “to resign within 30 days of an indictment being filed against him.” Currently, a prime minister can be forced to resign only if he is convicted of a crime.

While the bill has been introduced, it’s not likely to go anywhere just yet. The bill would need to be approved by the Knesset Legislative Committee, as well as several Knesset legislative and constitutional committees – none of which have been empaneled yet. But that could change within several weeks, at which point it is likely that the bill would pass – just about at the time Netanyahu would receive the mandate to form a government from President Reuven Rivlin if, as expected, Benny Gantz fails to form a government.

Netanyahu’s trial was supposed to start last week, but due to the coronavirus crisis, the opening date for hearings has been pushed back to June. Netanyahu will go on trial on three indictments, including Case 1000, in which Netanyahu is accused of accepting extravagant gifts from millionaire Arnon Milchin, mostly cigars and champagne; Case 2000, in which the prime minister allegedly leaned on the publishers of Yisrael Hayom to limit distribution of their free newspaper in order to benefit from better coverage in rival newspaper Yediot Acharonot; and Case 4000, also known as the Bezeq-Walla News Case, an influence-peddling probe that alleges that Netanyahu offered his good services to Israeli billionaire Shaul Elovich in return for positive coverage on the Walla news site. The indictments against Netanyahu in Cases 1000 and 2000 focus on breach of trust issues, while Case 4000 includes a bribery charge as well.