Knesset fast-tracks bill to block court from ordering PM to recuse himself

Carrie Keller-Lynn is a former political and legal correspondent for The Times of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a Knesset session on March 20, 2023 (Erik Marmor/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a Knesset session on March 20, 2023 (Erik Marmor/Flash90)

The Knesset’s House Committee moves to fast-track a bill that would protect Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from a court order to recuse himself.

The committee — helmed by Likud MK Ofir Katz, the bill’s primary sponsor — grants an exemption to the bill from waiting until next week to be brought for its second and third, final, floor votes.

It is expected to come up for a vote tonight or tomorrow, and the opposition is poised to stage a fiery filibuster against the bill, which many of its members paint as being “tailored” to save Netanyahu from potential legal trouble.

However, Katz says that opposition and coalition representatives already came to an agreement to limit debate on the recusal bill to a maximum of 16 hours, meaning the opposition’s stalling will prove to be largely symbolic. Katz also announces that the opposition will have up to 16 hours to filibuster the bill, making it likely to be passed tomorrow morning or afternoon.

The legislation explicitly blocks the top court from ordering a prime minister to take a leave of absence. According to the bill, only a three-quarters majority vote of government ministers or MKs can push a premier to take a temporary leave, and then, only for mental or physical health reasons.

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