Forced removal on the horizon? AG asks Supreme Court to void law protecting Netanyahu

“Prime Minister Netanyahu was elected by more than 2.5 million citizens, and in a democracy it is the citizens alone who decide who the prime minister will be,” the coalition heads responded.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara filed a petition with the Supreme Court on Tuesday, requesting that they strike down a law which prevents her from declaring that the prime minister is unfit for office and ordering his immediate removal.

In March, the Knesset passed a new quasi-constitutional Basic Law stating that a sitting prime minister could only be forced to step down by a majority vote of 75% of MKs or cabinet members. The law also specifies that the leave of absence could only be ordered due to physical or mental health concerns.

The measure was passed amid intense speculation that Baharav-Miara would attempt to force Benjamin Netanyahu out of the premiership on the grounds that he had allegedly violated an agreement to avoid directly promoting judicial reform while his criminal trial is ongoing.

In her unprecedented filing, which marks the first time in Israeli legal history that an attorney general has asked the Supreme Court to nullify a Basic Law, Baharav-Miara categorized the legislation as having a “personal purpose” and said that it was introduced solely to benefit Netanyahu.

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Because the law was “designed to obtain a specific goal that has short-term benefit for a current elected official,” Baharav-Miara wrote, the Court should invalidate on the grounds of “Abuse of Constituent Power.”

The explosive filing triggered backlash from the coalition party heads, who released a joint statement calling the move “another attempt to annul the democratic choice of millions of citizens and give over the authority to remove an Israeli prime minister from office to unelected clerks.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu was elected by more than 2.5 million citizens and in a democracy it is the citizens alone who decide who the prime minister will be,” the statement added.

“There is nothing more anti-democratic than trying to cancel a Basic Law that was passed by a majority of votes by members of the legislature, who [came to power] after democratic elections,” said Culture and Sports Minister Miki Zohar (Likud) via his Twitter account.

“This is what fighting against democracy looks like. Simple.”

Netanyahu’s lawyers responded to the petition by arguing that the Supreme Court should refuse to hear the petition, as the body does not have the jurisdiction or authority to nullify Basic Laws.

Should the Court decide to void the law, such a move would likely spark a serious constitutional crisis. It’s unclear whether the Court will choose to respond to Baharav-Miara’s petition or decline to hear the case.