Netanyahu rival Gantz pushing law to prevent prime ministers from serving under indictment

The Blue and White leader will make the passage of such a law a precondition for joining a coalition.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Blue and White head Benny Gantz is pushing a draft law his party has formulated that will prevent  prime ministers from serving in office if they’re facing indictment, Yediot Ahronot reported on Monday.

The proposed legislation reads, “A prime minister who has been charged with a criminal offense for serious offenses will not be able to hold office.”

In addition, it would anchor in law the same restriction for all ministers, a stricture currently enforced only by a Supreme Court ruling.

Yediot reported that Netanyahu himself had signed onto a bill similar to what Gantz is proposing and voted in favor of it while head of the opposition over a decade ago.

The legislation feeds into Gantz’s efforts to present his party as standing against corruption and, specifically, Netanyahu’s alleged crimes, say Blue and White insiders, according to Yediot.

They repeated Gantz’s comments about joining together with the Likud in a broad coalition: There is no objection to doing so as long as Netanyahu steps aside.

Last week, Gantz reiterated this position at a Manufacturer’s Association conference in Tel Aviv.

“Netanyahu cannot be prime minister with three or four indictments against him,” he said. “We won’t form a national corruption government with Netanyahu. We will form a national unity government with other actors, based on our guidelines.”

The law does leave a window for Gantz to entertain some kind of rotation agreement with Benjamin Netanyahu.

For this to happen, however, the prime minister would have to convince the attorney-general in his pretrial hearing (set for October) that the evidence against him is too weak to go to trial in the three cases now hanging over him, leading to their dismissal.

Netanyahu’s allies have tried, unsuccessfully, to pass a law in the past few months to prevent a prime minister from being indicted.

Their bill is similar to one in France that states that the country’s leader can only be investigated for certain, limited types of crimes.