Israeli ministers vote in favor of term limits for prime minister

The ministerial committee on legislation voted unanimously in favor of setting term limits for Israel’s prime minister on Sunday, in an important step toward passing the bill in the next month.

Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, who initiated the bill and chairs the committee, defended the legislation on Twitter on Sunday. He pointed to criticism that term limits are rare in a parliamentary democracy and recalled that they were part of Israeli law during the years when Israel directly elected its prime minister (1996-2001).

“Having no term limits for the prime minister encourages corruption,” Sa’ar told reporters outside of Sunday’s cabinet meeting.

Sa’ar (New Hope) received approval from Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to go ahead with the bill, because it will not be retroactive and therefore would not apply to opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who could be eight years old. more as prime minister until the bill is enacted. applied to him.

Another Sa’ar-sponsored bill, which would prevent anyone under serious indictment, including Netanyahu, from forming a government, has not garnered Bennett’s support, and Sa’ar said there is no deadline to pass it.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar at the 2021 State Budget vote, November 3, 2021 (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM / THE JERUSALEM POST)

Likud MK David Bitan announced that he supports the term limit bill. But a Netanyahu spokesman denied a statement by Bitan on Army Radio that the former prime minister would have no problem with the bill if it did not apply to him.

“Former Prime Minister Netanyahu opposes all term limits, regardless of whether they are included,” the spokesman said. “Parliamentary democracies do not limit the terms of prime ministers. They allow the public to vote in free elections that they will continue to run each time.”

The Likud cited leaders Angel Merkel in Germany and Pierre Trudeau in Canada.

“No one questioned whether Germany or Canada are suitable democracies,” Netanyahu’s spokesman said. “What is undemocratic is the leader of a party that does not cross the threshold to limit the right to vote of the citizenry.”

Religious Zionist Party deputy Simcha Rothman said Sa’ar should have taken action against former Supreme Court Chief Justice Aharon Barak, who, according to Rothman, caused significant damage to Israeli democracy during his 30 years as a judge.

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