Yisrael Beytenu Chairman Avigdor Liberman said on Thursday that he would support pardoning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the three corruption cases against him in exchange for Israel’s leader retirement from political life.
The comments came three weeks after Netanyahu had been charged 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 in an interview, adding 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 61-year-old went on to say that many Israeli lawmakers, including some of Netanyahu’s fellow Likud members, feel a “sense of disgust” in the wake of 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 [pardon in exchange for retirement] was 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."
Earlier on Thursday, the Knesset approved a motion to dissolve itself and hold an unprecedented third national vote in less than a year on March 2, 2020 after Netanyahu and his main rival Benny Gantz failed to parlay the previous two ballots into a new coalition government.
Liberman said he does not regret not aligning himself politically with either Likud or Blue and White during the failed attempts to form government after the September 17 vote, insisting that his faction will only support a unity government.
"Those who had to form a government are the two largest parties, which combined have 65 seats," Lieberman added. "I said from the very first moment of the last election campaign that we will only join a unity government, not narrow one.”