The Blue and White party is weighing introducing legislation, already next week, that would require Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to step down from his post if an indictment is filed in the three criminal cases against him, Channel 13 news reported Tuesday.
Benny Gantz’s centrist alliance could introduce the bill as early as next Monday when it gains control of the key Knesset Arrangements Committee, a temporary committee that replaces the role of the House Committee in introducing legislation until a new government is formed.
The party that chairs the committee is the one who’s leader has been tasked with forming a coalition. On Wednesday, President Reuven Rivlin will tap Gantz for the job after Netanyahu announced earlier this week he had been unable to do so.
But while Blue and White may be in the driver’s seat by next week, it will still require a majority in the committee in order to bring legislation designed to corner Netanyahu to a Knesset vote. Parties earn representation on the Regulatory Committee that is proportional to the amount of seats they won in the election.
A majority for Blue and White will be contingent on Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman, who has called for a unity government involving both parties, and has until this point sought to avoid the appearance of allying with Blue and White against Netanyahu.
Liberman has not recommended either candidate to form the next government, including on Tuesday when Rivlin asked the parties if they would like to change their choices after Netanyahu announced he was throwing in the towel.
A vote in favor of legislation requiring Netanyahu to step down if indicted would likely be used by Likud to argue that Liberman is coordinating with Gantz and not actually interested in forming the unity government that he speaks of.
Moreover, while the Yisrael Beytenu chairman has been heavily critical of Netanyahu in recent months, his objections have been regarding security matters along with issues of religion and state, rather than the prime minister’s legal woes.
As someone who has faced similar criminal probes himself, it is less likely that Liberman would choose to make that a central issue of contention with Netanyahu.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced in February he intended to indict Netanyahu in three criminal investigations.
Netanyahu, who denies any wrongdoing, has repeatedly claimed that he is the victim of a witch hunt by the media, the left, police and the state prosecution, designed to oust him from power.
His lawyers presented defense arguments at four days of hearings earlier this month in which they sought to dissuade Mandelblit from pressing charges. Mandelblit is expected to decide whether to press charges against Netanyahu by year’s end.