Photo Credit: MK Merav Michaeli's Facebook page
MK Merav Michaeli

With 47 nays and 32 yeas, the Knesset plenum rejected in a preliminary reading a bill submitted by MK Merav Michaeli (Zionist Camp) to compel every sitting government to appoint a replacement for the prime minister who is at the helm, who would be “a heartbeat way” should the PM be rendered unable to carry out his duties.

The opposition bill was submitted against a backdrop of growing expectations that Israel’s police will soon recommend to the state prosecution to open criminal procedures against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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The current law gives the PM permission to appoint a substitute, but does not compel him or her to do so. The bill’s author suggests that “this creates a situation whereby, should the prime Minister become unable to carry out his duties, God forbid, the country could experience governmental distress.”

The bill went on to recall that on Dec. 27, 2013, Prime Minister Netanyahu was rushed to hospital, to be released two hours later, and during that time there was no specific person in charge of the government.

On the other hand, the bill continues, when in 2006 then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon fell into a coma, he had luckily appointed a substitute, Finance Minister Ehud Olmert, before falling into a coma. Alas, in 2008 Olmert was forced to leave office in disgrace, but that’s an entirely other kettle of fish.

MKs on both sides of the aisle were painfully (or joyously) aware of the sitting prime minister’s mounting legal problems, which so far have resulted in Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, being questioned by police investigators for many hours each (the PM in two sessions). Prime Minister Netanyahu is facing allegations in several cases, two of which were made public for the first time only this month. The “Case 1000” and “Case 2000,” which are reportedly linked, that he received very expensive gifts and benefits businessmen in Israel and abroad, in return for political favors.

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