Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked on Friday said Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu should not quit his position, even if he is indicted.
Speaking before the start of Shabbat (Sabbath) on Channel 2's "Meet the Israeli Press" program, Shaked said, "Netanyahu should continue serving as Prime Minister even if they file an indictment against him. Basic Law: The Government, section 18, speaks about a situation in which a prime minister is convicted, and in that situation, he should be fired at the end of the process, but only after all appeals have been settled."
"When Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) was convicted, there was a ruling about ministers - but not about the prime minister. There's a huge difference between a minister and the prime minister."
In 1993, Deri resigned from his position as Interior Minister after he was charged with corruption.
"From a legal standpoint, if a prime minister is indicted he does not have to resign. There is the moral aspect, and that will be a question that the parties in the coalition will need to ask themselves if we get to that point, but we're not there. There's a long road ahead, the police and the district attorneys will need to recommend an indictment, the Attorney General will need to hold a hearing, and then he will need to decide whether to submit an indictment. It's a long process. Newspapers see the headlines, speculations, and assumptions, but we're not there yet.
"I think we need to let the government work, and we need to let the Prime Minister do his job.
"In an normal, strong democracy, we choose a new government when elections are held, not when interrogations are held. We need to know that resignation is only an obligation if a prime minister is convicted. We need to understand that interrogations can be a good tool for killing someone's political career. I hope this ends without an indictment. If we reach a situation in which he is indicted, the coalition will sit down and decide what to do, based on what we have learned. Right now, we don't know too much.
"We cannot run a country by preventing the prime minister from doing his job, just because there are rumors and an interrogation."
Netanyahu and his wife Sara allegedly received gifts of cigars and champagne from friends, which are now suspected of being bribes. However, Netanyahu does not smoke, and friends' gifts are not always bribes.
Another investigation against Netanyahu involves allegations that he and Yediot Ahronot publisher Arnon “Nuni” Mozes conspired to soften the paper’s left-leaning anti-Netanyahu line in exchange for passage of legislation barring the free distribution of Israel Hayom, a rival paper that has cut into Yediot’s readership in recent years. However, their meetings were not official.
Shaked emphasized that she doesn't see a reason to hold early elections.
"I always said that this government is a good, homogeneous government. If we didn't have all these issues, if it turns out that there is no reason to indict the Prime Minister, I think we will complete our term and hold elections in 2019. The ministers are working well, the coalition parties are cooperating nicely, and I think we need to continue to run the country. We need to understand that choosing to hold elections will have very significant consequences."
Regarding the metal detectors which were temporarily placed on the Temple Mount, Shaked said that the fact that Israel removed the magnetometers and the security cameras severely harmed Israel's efforts at deterring terrorism.
"In the Middle East, if you don't stick to what's important to you, you end up suffering from it," she said. "We believed it was important and proper to leave the cameras, and in the end, we decided to remove them. That hurt our ability to deter terrorism, and the question is how much and if it will have consequences. We'll only know the answers in the future. I thought that if the police need security cameras in order to secure the entrances and the Temple Mount worshipers, then we should have left them there, and allowed the Arab public to adjust to them. We thought it was possible."
Shaked also said convicted IDF soldier Elor Azariya's appeal to IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot to shorten his prison term should be taken seriously.
Azariya shot a wounded terrorist suspected of having an explosive vest, and spent the following sixteen months under open arrest in an army camp. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison, to begin next week.
"Two justice systems decided Azariya was guilty, and the sentence was very severe, but at the end of the day, the Chief of Staff needs to think about the good of the IDF, the State of Israel, and the soldier, and see what he has been through in the past months. He needs to take all these details into account, put them together, and make a decision. He needs to think about the possible effects on the IDF and on the State of Israel, and decide what's best."