Knesset Speaker Benny Gantz on Monday allowed the tabling of legislation that would block Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from forming a government after future elections because of his criminal indictment last year on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.
The proposed legislation would ban anyone who is under criminal indictment from seeking the position of prime minister.
Gantz's move was seen as a last-ditch effort to coerce Netanyahu into forming a unity government to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
Netanyahu has publicly stated he is in favor of a national unity government but has insisted that his party control judicial appointments - seen as an effort to dodge his criminal trial.
The Blue & White leader's move was however hampered by opposition from his former allies on the left who say they would not join in his political ploy and would only support such legislation if Gantz backed away from his intent to join a Netanyahu-led government and resigned as speaker.
"This is a necessary first step," said Meretz MK Yair Golan, although not everyone in his party agreed.
"These are laws that will prevent Netanyahu from running again and could save Israeli democracy," said Tamar Zandberg.
Yisrael Beytenu, the party that tabled the proposed legislation, made a motion for an expedited process that would allow the laws to bypass certain Knesset committees and come up for a vote as early as Tuesday.
The motion depends on the willingness of Blue & White MK Avi Nissenkorn to convene the Arrangements Committee to approve the law.
If no coalition agreement is reached in the next three weeks, the Knesset will be dissolved and a fourth election since April 2019 would be called.
At a political rally in Tel Aviv on Sunday night, Gantz's former Blue & White partners Yair Lapid and Moshe Ya'alon both called on him to end efforts to join Netanyahu's government.
Lapid and Ya'alon split from Blue & White last month when Gantz made the shock last-minute announcement that he would be standing for Knesset speaker despite his party agreeing on a different candidate to replace Likud's Yuli Edelstein. He was voted in with support from Netanyahu's right-wing, religious bloc.
Netanyahu and Gantz met again on Monday morning to attempt to reach an agreement, but the talks did not yield any results.
First published: 14:48 , 04.20.20