Likud MK to Propose Bill Preventing Investigations of Sitting Prime Ministers
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.”