High Court tells Netanyahu to respond to petition against law shielding PM from recusal

Jeremy Sharon is The Times of Israel’s legal affairs and settlements reporter

Left: Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara at her welcome ceremony in Jerusalem on February 8, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90). Right: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, on January 11, 2023. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Left: Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara at her welcome ceremony in Jerusalem on February 8, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90). Right: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, on January 11, 2023. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The High Court of Justice demands that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the attorney general, as the representative of the government, submit a response to a petition filed by the Movement for Quality Government (MQG) in Israel against legislation passed last night that will prevent the court from being able to order Netanyahu to be removed from office.

The court does not, however, issue an interim order freezing implementation of the law, meaning it will go into effect immediately.

The legislation was passed due to concerns that arose within the coalition that petitions to the court may lead it to order the attorney general to instruct the prime minister to recuse himself for violating a conflict of interest agreement.

That agreement, updated in January, ordered Netanyahu not to involve himself in the judicial overhaul legislation due to his ongoing criminal trial on corruption charges and the conflict of interest he has in that regard.

MQG argues in its petition that the law, an amendment to Basic Law: The Government, is designed for the benefit of one individual, Netanyahu, and “undermines Israel’s system of government where the judiciary balances and checks the executive and legislature” and will lead to “dictatorship.”

Netanyahu and the attorney general have until April 24 to respond to the petition.

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