Netanyahu suffers setback as bill to oust him gains majority

The bill to block a prime minister facing indictment from forming a government gained an important ally on Thursday.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

The attempt to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu through legislation gained a critical ally on Thursday when Avigdor Liberman threw the support of his Israel Beiteinu party behind the effort.

The party’s seven Knesset seats give the legislative initiative a majority of 62 in Israel’s parliament.

In a statement the party said, “At the faction meeting ending now, it was decided to advance two laws. The first is a law that limits a prime minister to two terms. The second is a law that prevents a Knesset member facing an indictment from forming a government.”

It is the second that may be a present danger to Netanyahu’s premiership.

“Liberman’s announcement is dramatic, they say in the political system, because for the first time he is clearly taking sides,” Ynet reports.

Liberman said before the third elections that there wouldn’t be a fourth and that he would take a side. He said when the ballots closed that he wouldn’t join Netanyahu’s government.

The former defense minister has been a thorn in Netanyahu’s side since he quit the government in Nov. 2018, the event which started the ball rolling toward not one, but three Knesset elections.

Ynet, which broke the story on Wednesday that the opposition was planning to introduce such legislation, had the approval of Blue and White leader Benny Gantz.

The bill won’t be introduced until after the next Knesset is sworn in, which will be in two weeks’ time.

Netanyahu reacted strongly to the news on Wednesday, saying “Gantz is stealing the election.”

“The effort that Gantz is leading undermines the foundations of democracy and the will of the voter,” Netanyahu said.

“This is an effort to divide the nation when we are facing serious challenges like the corona crisis,” Netanyahu said at a meeting of the right-wing bloc to which the press had been invited.

“There are also opportunities like U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan that require us to be united and respect the will of the people,” the prime minister said.

Blue and White MK Ofer Shelah told Ynet on Wednesday that that the party intends to do everything to prevent Netanyahu from serving, “including a parliamentary move.”

He said the opposition is in the midst of building the majority in the Knesset to achieve that goal.

“Of course, if we don’t achieve this, we will accept the decision of the voter,” he said.

Netanyahu’s allies blasted the initiative.

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, leader of the Yemina party and a member of Netanyahu’s coalition, calling the idea “anti-democratic.” He said it’s like “spitting in the face of half of the country.”

“Two days ago there were elections,” he said, “and they are already trying to circumvent the will the people.”

Ayelet Shaked, also of Yemina, said that Blue and White and its allies spoke of saving democracy throughout their campaign, and now they’re “trying to abolish the election results through legislation with the help of terrorists,” she said. She referred to the Arab Joint List, which sports the move.

Recently, one of its members was discovered to have praised terrorists who murdered Jews, calling one a “martyr.”