Knesset Approves Law to Limit Conditions for Ouster of Prime Minister


An aerial view shows demonstrators draping the national flag of Israel on the walls of the Old City of Yerurshalayim in an act of protest against the judicial reform, Thursday. (REUTERS/Ilan Rosenberg)

The Knesset passed the Impeachment Law on Thursday morning protecting a prime minister from the possibility of a court-ordered recusal.

The law passed its final reading by a vote of 61 MKs in favor, to 47 against.

The Impeachment Law prevents the High Court from ordering a prime minister to take a leave of absence. Under the new law, a prime minister can be declared unfit for office only for health reasons, and only by a three-quarter majority vote of Cabinet ministers or a three-quarter majority Knesset vote.

The law’s supporters say they are responding to years of judicial overreach. Opponents of the legislation say the law was tailored to protect Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is on trial for fraud, bribery and breach of trust stemming from three separate investigations.

It has been speculated that the High Court or the attorney general may order Netanyahu to recuse himself from office during the trial due to conflicts of interest.

The last Israeli prime minister removed from office for medical reasons was Ariel Sharon. Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert then became temporary prime minister after Sharon, then 78, suffered a massive stroke on Jan. 4, 2006. The Cabinet declared Sharon permanently incapacitated on April 11 of that year. Sharon remained in a permanent vegetative state until his death in 2014.

Olmert stepped down from office in 2008 ahead of his own indictment for corruption. He was later convicted and served two-thirds of a 27-month prison sentence.

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