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Israel: Knesset approves draft law to block removal of prime minister

March 14, 2023 at 9:12 am

Police officers take security measures as Israeli non-governmental organizations gather in front of the parliament building (Knesset) [Mostafa Alkharouf – Anadolu Agency]

The Israeli parliament, the Knesset, has approved the first reading of the Basic Law: The Government Bill, which aims to prohibit the suspension of the prime minister from office and declaring him or her to be incapable of performing their duties. The first reading of the bill was passed by a majority of 61 in favour, with 51 MKs opposing it.

A special committee in the Knesset had approved the bill earlier on Monday in preparation for putting it to a vote before the Knesset.

The draft amendments to the Basic Law: The Government were submitted by the head of the ruling coalition, Likud MK Ofir Katz. It stipulates that the prime minister can only be declared unfit in the case of absence or illness that would prevent him or her from carrying out their duties.

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According to the law, the prime minister must declare themselves to be incapable or a 75 per cent vote by ministers will suffice. If the prime minister opposes a vote on this in the government, the decision will be transferred to the plenary in the Knesset, where a claim of incapability must be supported by 90 MKs.

The amendment also stipulates that the High Court cannot hear a petition demanding that the prime minister be declared unfit or approve it. This is despite the the Israeli government’s judicial advisor, Gali Baharav-Miara, expressing her opposition to preventing the court from having judicial oversight and expressing her legal position in this regard.

The Israeli public broadcaster, Kan 11, said that the coalition is considering reinforcing the law quickly, and submitting the bill for its second and third readings next week.

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