Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90
MK Bezalel Smotrich

MK Bezalel Samotrich (Rightwing Union) on Wednesday told Channel 13, “With my legal education and my employment in these fields for many years, this appears to fit me. [Rightwing Union chairman] Rafi Peretz will take the education portfolio.”

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud) told Channel 13 that he, too, is interested in the justice portfolio. “I would be happy to be the justice minister in the next government,” he said, suggesting “the justice system needs a fundamental change.”

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Levin also attacked outgoing Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (New Right), saying that her ministry was “in a much worse condition than it had been before it took office.”

According to Smotrich, his first move as justice minister would be to amend the Knesset Immunity Law, so that MKs, ministers and the prime minister may not be prosecuted for any crime—save for treason or racist incitement—from the moment of their assuming office until they retire from it. The immunity will be the default mode under the amendment, and the Knesset would have to vote to take it away.

This was the letter of this law until it was changed by the Knesset in 2005.

Smotrich said his reason for the amendment was that “the people of Israel yesterday said clearly that they wish to see respect for the democratic process, the will of the people, and allowing the prime minister to conduct the affairs of the state in an optimal manner, instead of spending half his time defending himself. These interests are very important, they tip the scales and, in my opinion, turn the indictments [against Netanyahu] into trifles.”

Smotrich also rejected reports of an agreement between himself and Netanyahu that the latter would impose sovereignty in Judea and Samaria in return for the right-wing parties securing his immunity from prosecution. He did say that President Donald Trump’s two states “deal of the century” was a red line in terms of his party’s agenda.

“We will demand that no Palestinian state be established using any scrubbed terminology,” Smotrich vowed, adding, “We will demand that we talk about the development of the settlement enterprise, its strengthening and the application of sovereignty.”

This could mean that Samotrich conditions his party’s entry into a Netanyahu-led coalition an outright rejection of President Trump’s peace plan.

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