Education Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party, on Monday expressed support for a proposed bill that would limit the tenure of a Prime Minister to two terms.
The opposition bill was authored by MK Merav Michaeli (Zionist Union), who on Monday asked Bennett whether he would support the move during a discussion in the Knesset. Bennett replied by saying that the bill is “a welcome step”, as he put it.
“They say that power corrupts, and absolute power absolutely corrupts,” he said, adding that “in the United States, the American nation reached that conclusion and limited presidents to two terms.”
“We see now how in his second term Obama is working hard to advance his agenda on issues such as Cuba, Iran, health care reform and all kinds of things that are important to him,” said Bennett, who added that he tends to support Michaeli’s proposal and promised to discuss it with the MKs from the Jewish Home.
“My inclination is positive but things should be done prospectively and not retroactively,” he said. “We’ll bring this idea to members of the faction in the coming days and we will discuss this matter, we haven’t yet formulated a party position on this, but I think it’s a welcome step.”
Michaeli’s bill quickly drew signatures from the leaders of all the opposition parties, and even some Likud MKs reportedly backed it. Even if it does pass, though, the change would only take effect several years from now. This means that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would be eligible to continue leading the country for two more rounds, giving him a total of six terms as prime minister.
Should the current government last for the full four years, Netanyahu will become the longest-serving prime minister in Israel's history.
The bill was supported by Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman while he was still in the opposition, and was actually the subject of a back and forth between Netanyahu and Liberman before they began coalition talks.
In one incident the Prime Minister went so far as to accuse Liberman of conspiring with the Arab Joint List party to bring down the government.
“There is someone who presents himself as a rightist, but is working to replace the rightist government with the extreme left - that will not happen," Netanyahu told Likud activists at a toast in honor of the holiday of Passover last month.