The Israeli parliament, the Knesset, has approved a law which will grant Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immunity from prosecution on criminal charges. The Basic Law: The Government passed its second and third readings, and will prevent a sitting prime minister from being dismissed from office and declared to be unable to fulfil his or her duties.
The law was approved by a majority of 61 Knesset members, with 47 voting against. Two Knesset members from the Likud Party, David Bitan and David Amsalem, were absent from the session, and Moshe Abutbul, a Shas party MK, was also absent. According to Kan public broadcaster, the absences were not related to any dispute with the coalition government.
The bill as amended stipulates that the declaration of incapacity can only occur in the event of the physical or mental inability of the prime minister to carry out his or her duties. In such a case, the prime minister must announce his or her incapacity or it must be done through a vote in the government with the support of 75 per cent of the ministers.
In the event that the prime minister opposes such a vote within the government, the decision will be transferred to the Knesset, where a decision on incapacity must be supported by 90 members.
The amendment also stipulates that the Supreme Court cannot consider a petition demanding the declaration of incapacity or its approval. This was passed even though the Israeli government’s own legal advisor, Gali Baharav-Miara, has expressed her opposition to preventing the court from having judicial control, and expressing her legal position in this regard.