Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will relinquish the four ministerial portfolios he currently holds in the wake of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s decision to indict him in three corruption cases.
As of today, Netanyahu holds the agriculture, health, social affairs and diaspora affairs portfolios. But according to legal precedent, a minister cannot continue to serve under indictment.
On Friday, the Blue and White called on Mandelblit to order Netanyahu to immediately give up the four ministerial posts.
Though the law technically allows a prime minister to remain in power so long as a final court ruling convicting him has not been given, it has never actually been tested before.
Netanyahu is the first leader in Israel’s history to face criminal charges while in office — and the courts will likely be compelled to debate the issue.
Both the Labor party and the Movement for Quality Government said they would appeal to the High Court of Justice to force the prime minister to step down, with further petitions expected.
Mandelblit announced he would charge the premier with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three separate cases against him.
The attorney general is reportedly also set to rule on whether Netanyahu can legally be tasked with forming a government due to the announcement of criminal charges against him.
After September’s elections, and failed efforts by Netanyahu and rival Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to muster a majority, the Knesset now has until December 11 to find a prime ministerial candidate who enjoys the support of 61 MK’s.
With kingmaker the Yisrael Beytenu party saying it will not support a narrow government of any kind, and the indictment announcement seemingly killing off any chance of Blue and White agreeing to share power with Netanyahu.
Gantz on Saturday said Netanyahu must step aside due to the pending charges and called on other Likud leaders to join him in a unity government to prevent a “pointless” new election.
The Times of Israel / ABC Flash Point News 2019.