Blue & White on Wednesday confirmed it was working on getting a Knesset majority to support a bill that would prevent an indicted prime minister from serving, which would effectively oust current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Blue & White chairman Benny Gantz proposed such a law after the 2019 September elections, but it was struck down at the time by Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman.
However, Liberman could now support the legislation, according to a senior source who has spoken with Liberman about the matter.
After more than 99 percent of the votes were tallied, Likud and its right-wing allies control 58 out of the 120 Knesset seats.
The right-wing bloc supporting Netanyahu — consisting of Likud, the ultra-Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism and Yamina — thus fell short of the 61-MK majority needed to form a government.
Netanyahu is set to go on trial on March 17 for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. The new Knesset will be sworn in on the same day.
A similar law banning an indicted prime minister from serving, was proposed in 2008 when then-prime minister Ehud Olmert was facing corruption charges, was supported by Netanyahu himself.
The law did not pass, but Olmert resigned before criminal charges were filed against him.
The law was also reportedly backed at the time by members of Netanyahu’s current bloc, including United Torah Judaism co-leader Yaakov Litzman and fellow Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the legislative proposal was technically possible, with some observers arguing that private, non-governmental draft law cannot be filed during a transitional government.
Blue & White believes it is possible, and that it isn’t different from Likud proposing a law to dissolve the Knesset and call new elections, which was voted on and passed.
Gantz reportedly plans to file the draft law immediately after the new Knesset is sworn in.
Apart from Blue & White, Labor-Gesher-Meretz and the Joint List MKs on Wednesday voiced support for the law, while Yisrael Beytenu officially kept mum.
Labor-Gesher-Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz tweeted Wednesday that the law was “politically and morally justified and reflects the will of most voters.” He added: “Let’s go for it with everything we’ve got.”
His party member Itzik Shmuli said he was on board, adding: “It’s time for our political camp to seek decisive victory.”
While the Joint List hasn’t officially commented on the matter, its veteran MK Ahmad Tibi said, “I estimate that [supporting the bill] will be our direction.”
Netanyahu in response said during a right-wing bloc meeting on Wednesday, Gantz is trying to “steal the elections” bypassing such a law.
"Such a bill undermines the foundations of democracy,” he added.
Members of Netanyahu’s bloc reacted with outrage to the initiative.
Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett on Twitter called it “an anti-democratic move, spitting in the face of half the country.” He added: “Two days ago there were elections, and already they are trying to bypass the people’s will through illegitimate means.”
Shas leader Aryeh Deri said such a law would be a “disgrace” and break the “rules of the political game.” He lambasted Blue and White for being “willing to sacrifice the benefit of the country and the people’s unity on the altar of personal hate toward Netanyahu.”
Culture Minister Miri Regev, of Likud, accused Gantz of “succumbing to Tibi’s pressure” and starting an “attempted coup.”