Justice Anat Baron quotes remarks by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hours after the recusal law passed in March: “Until today my hands were tied. So tonight I announce to you, no more.” She says this indicates that the legislation was meant to personally allow him to violate a conflict of interest deal barring him from involving himself in judicial matters that could affect his corruption trial down the road.
Netanyahu’s lawyer Michael Rabello says this doesn’t mean the Knesset members intended for the law to pass only to personally benefit Netanyahu. He notes that the premier doesn’t head the Knesset and didn’t make the remark during the process — he said it after the Knesset process had ended.
Baron says, however, that the remarks indicate a direct connection between the legislation and Netanyahu’s personal fear of being ordered to step down.
After Rabello tries to claim Netanyahu was merely trying to be able to intervene in the public crisis over the overhaul in order to solve it, Justice Daphne Barak-Erez interjects: “So you’re saying it was personal, but in a good way?”
Chief Justice Esther Hayut notes that Netanyahu initially claimed he wasn’t bound by the 2020 conflict of interest agreement, a stance that has since been rejected.
After that, Hayut charges, if Netanyahu had a problem with the agreement and how it can be interpreted, he should have taken the matter directly to the High Court rather than passing a Basic Law amendment to eliminate the court’s power to evaluate whether the agreement is being adhered to.