Blue & White will consider agreeing to a pardon for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been indicted for alleged corruption, if he agrees to retire from political life, party leader Benny Gantz said Thursday evening.
"We don't want to see another prime minister behind prison walls," Gantz said at a party function, referring to former premier Ehud Olmert, who served a 16-month jail sentence for bribery and fraud.
"When relevant, we will consider things in accordance with the recommendations of the justice system," Gantz said of a potential pardon for Netanyahu.
"If we can save ourselves from that shameful spectacle, so much the better."
Gantz also expressed regret at his inability to form a government, which he said contributed to Israel's third election cycle within 12 months.
"I did not manage and we have still not managed to extricate the country from the mire into which we have been dragged," he said.
The pardon proposal was raised earlier in the day by Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman.
Netanyahu was charged three weeks ago with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three cases in which he is accused of trading legislative or regulatory favors in exchange for gifts or favorable media coverage.
"No immunity, pardon in exchange for honorable retirement," Liberman told Ynet on Thursday, also saying he does not want to see “Netanyahu or any other prime minister” in prison.
Liberman’s remarks echoed the comments made by President Reuven Rivlin over a week ago, who said he would consider pardoning the prime minister if Netanyahu was to confess to his crimes and retire from political life.
The Yisrael Beytenu leader said that many Israeli lawmakers, including some of Netanyahu’s fellow Likud members, felt a “sense of disgust” at the prime minister’s demands for immunity at the expense of the country’s interests.
“He has become a burden," said Liberman. “Everyone is prepared to give him an opportunity to retire in dignity. If this initiative [a pardon in exchange for retirement] were to be tabled in the Knesset, I have no doubt everyone would be in agreement,” he said.
“Ultimately, Netanyahu really has made an important contribution to the State of Israel."
First published: 21:55 , 12.12.19