AG forms team to probe legal queries in wake of PM's indictment

The Movement for the Quality of Gov't is the first to petition the Supreme Court to force the PM to resign and others are sure to follow.

Sara Rubenstein ,

אביחי מנדלבליט
אביחי מנדלבליט
Photo by Hadas Parush/FLASH90

Following Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit's announcement on Thursday that he is indicting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for fraud, bribery and breach of trust, a number of legal questions have been raised. Can the prime minister continue to serve? Can he be granted a mandate to form a future coalition? Does he have the right to immunity?

The indictments against Netanyahu are the first ones in Israeli history to be filed against a sitting prime minister so there is no precedent to draw upon. The only issue that seems to be clear right now is that Netanyahu must give up his ministerial positions since according to Israeli law, sitting ministers must resign if charged with a crime.

Israeli law does not require a prime minister to resign if charged with a crime but many are already challenging this law. Earlier on Sunday, the Movement for the Quality of Government was the first entity to file a petition to the Supreme Court to force Netanyahu to resign and others are sure to follow. Labor-Gesher chairman Amir Peretz already announced on Thursday evening that he has prepared a legal team to petition the Supreme Court to rule that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is unfit to serve in office.

However, Supreme Court Justice Menachem Mazuz rejected the petition from the Movement for the Quality of Government, saying that it is too early to issue a ruling on the issue and that petitions should not be filed before Mandelbit publishes his opinion on the matter.

Organizations and politicians are trying to influence Mandelblit to instruct Netanyahu that he should resign and that he cannot run for reelection while facing indictments. Israeli law does not address whether a candidate for prime minister facing indictments can be granted a mandate to form a government.

According to a report on Sunday morning on Army Radio, Mandelblit formed a team to discuss the legal questions that arose following the indictments with the goal of reaching conclusive answers by the end of the week.

The team will be comprised of Mandelblit, State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan, Deputy Attorney General for Administration and Special Functions Adv. Raz Nazri, and Deputy Attorney-General for Public Administrative Law Dina Zilber.