Right-Wing Parties at Odds Over Anti-Netanyahu Bill

netanyahu knesset
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett walks by opposition head Binyamin Netanyahu (L) in the Knesset earlier this month. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The two right-wing coalition parties were at odds on Sunday over a bill to prevent a person indicted on criminal charges from forming a government.

Justice Minister Gideon Saar, chairman of New Hope, revealed that he is preparing such a bill, in an interview published in Yediot Acharonot Friday.

“I have this week ordered the Justice Ministry to prepare a bill stating the President will not be able to hand the mandate of forming a government to an indicted MK,” Saar said.

“I intend on presenting the bill to the Knesset at the start of the winter session, and it will come into effect starting from the swearing in of the 25th Knesset,” Saar added.

But on Sunday, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) opposed the idea.

Some in Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party are believed to be uneasy about supporting a measure that will be seen as personally targeting former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, which would further alienate right-wing voters from the party. The law as it stands would only apply to Netanyahu, the only living prime minister who fits the description.

However, when asked if he had coordinated it with Bennett, Saar said, “I wouldn’t start this process without coordinating with the prime minister.”

He added: “We’ve seen that leadership of the country by a person under indictment creates a preference for personal interests over the good of the country… So it is clear the nation should not be put in such a position again.”

Ynet quoted unnamed government officials who said that such a bill would need to be agreed upon by all sides in the coalition, and that no agreement yet exists.

Likud officials told Yediot Acharonot that Saar was motivated solely by revenge. They said it was “akin to the dictates of North Korea or Iran.”

Saar hit back later on Sunday, asserting that not the bill but opposition to it is “personal.”

“A mayor, the only person who is chosen directly by the residents, is suspended when an indictment is filed against him,” Saar wrote on Twitter. “A minister or deputy minister resigns when an indictment is filed against him. Applying this norm to the role of prime minister is a moral statement of the legislator.”

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