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Knesset rejects bill barring Netanyahu from heading government

A general overview of a meeting held in Knesset, Israel on October 3, 2019 [MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images]
A general overview of a meeting held in the Israeli Knesset on 3 October 2019 [MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images]

Israel's parliament, the Knesset, rejected a bill on Wednesday which would prevent its members indicted on criminal charges from forming a government, the Times of Israel has reported. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who faces corruption and fraud charges, and opposition leader Yair Lapid traded insults after the discussion in the chamber.

The bill, which was introduced by Lapid, aimed to prevent Netanyahu from forming a government if another General Election is held in Israel. According to reports, 53 MKs rejected the bill and 37 supported it. The Blue and White bloc, Netanyahu's partner in the government, abstained in the vote.

"We are today witnessing another disgusting episode in a never-ending campaign on the part of those who say they uphold democracy, but hold a sword for its decapitation in their hands," Netanyahu told Knesset members after the vote. "This bill is a complete distortion. Where do such laws pass? The only places in the world that pass laws to thwart candidates are Iran and North Korea."

READ: Likud suffers serious decline in popularity 

Turning to Lapid, he said, "A thousand masks will not be able to cover your dictatorship. With one hand you organise left-wing demonstrations and with the other you bring Iranian law to the Knesset to prevent me from being elected prime minister."

The prime minister described as "unforgivable" what he said was Lapid's "condescension" towards right-wing and Likud voters. "Everything is fake with you. You are constantly pretending. Without a matriculation certificate and without a bachelor's degree you tried to get a fake PhD. Lapid, you are a fake democrat. Your father was a real democrat and I follow his path."

In response, the opposition leader fired back: "We can see the sweat from here. You know, and you're afraid, that you'll end up in jail. Your father told you not to touch money [in politics]. If you had listened to him you wouldn't be facing three criminal cases."

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