Likud MK to Pro­pose Bill Pre­vent­ing In­ves­ti­ga­tions of Sit­ting Prime Min­is­ters

The Jewish Voice - - ISRAEL - By: An­drew Fried­man

Is­rael suf­fers from an in­ex­pli­ca­ble drive to bring down lead­ers, a Likud MK said Mon­day, and has pre­vented prime min­is­ters from fully fo­cus­ing on the job of lead­ing the coun­try for the past 20 years.

“Ev­ery prime min­is­ter for the past 20 years has been in­ves­ti­gated,” MK Dudi Am­sallem told Army Ra­dio. “I think it's a prob­lem – as soon as a leader is elected, at­tempts be­gin to bring him down. It's ab­surd.”

To ad­dress the is­sue, Am­sallem says he will ta­ble a bill this week in the Min­is­te­rial Com­mit­tee for Leg­is­la­tion to pro­hibit the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of a sit­ting prime min­is­ter on charges of bribery, fraud, or breach of trust. Sup­port­ers of the mea­sure in­clude Coali­tion Whip MK David Bi­tan, a close ally of Prime Min­is­ter Ne­tanyahu.

Oth­ers, how­ever, have op­posed the mea­sure as lit­tle more than a cyn­i­cal at­tempt by Likud law­mak­ers to pro­tect a Likud prime min­is­ter who is em­broiled in mul­ti­ple cor­rup­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tions. No­tably, not all op­po­si­tion to the bill have come from po­lit­i­cal ri­vals: At­tor­ney Gen­eral Avichai Man­del­blit, a for­mer cab­i­net sec­re­tary and a long-time Ne­tanyahu con­fi­dant, has crit­i­cized the move.

But Am­sallem said the mea­sure is nec­es­sary in or­der to ad­dress an Is­raeli phe­nom­e­non that does not oc­cur in any other democ­racy, one that means ei­ther that Is­raeli lead­ers are un­usu­ally cor­rupt, or that there is an un­usual drive to bring them down.

“Do you think the whole world is full of pure, right­eous peo­ple, and only the Land of Is­rael is full of thieves and cor­rup­tion? I think that's pretty un­likely,” Am­sallem said.

Should the bill be­come law – Coali­tion chair­man Bi­tan told Chan­nel 2 news Sun­day that the govern­ment will move to push the mea­sure for­ward over the next few weeks – there has been spec­u­la­tion that it could spur Ne­tanyahu to call a flash elec­tion in or­der to thwart on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions into two cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions.

It would al­most cer­tainly face le­gal chal­lenges. Le­gal sources claim that post­pon­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tions of sit­ting prime min­is­ters, as the bill seeks to do, would cause inequal­ity in law en­force­ment and gen­er­ate a mes­sage that the prime min­is­ter is above the law.

Am­sallem re­jected that idea out-of-hand, say­ing the new mea­sure would not ap­ply to in­ves­ti­ga­tions started be­fore the

bill be­comes law.

But he also said that the drive to bring down prime min­is­ters has da­m­aged Is­rael's gov­ern­abil­ity.

“I'm con­cerned about the State of Is­rael, not about this per­son or that one. The coun­try's gov­ern­abil­ity is more im­por­tant to me than whether or not [the prime min­is­ter] got this or that num­ber of cigars,” he said.

Ul­ti­mately, the bill is un­likely to be­come law. Coali­tion part­ner Ku­lanu op­poses the mea­sure, as do some mem­bers of the Likud and of­fi­cials in the Jus­tice Min­istry.

“Ev­ery prime min­is­ter for the past 20 years has been in­ves­ti­gated,” MK Dudi Am­sallem told Army Ra­dio. “I think it’s a prob­lem – as soon as a leader is elected, at­tempts be­gin to bring him down. It’s ab­surd.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.