Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday said he will resign from all ministerial positions by January 1, 2020. He is not expected to quit his post as prime minister.
Netanyahu, who currently holds health, welfare, agriculture and diaspora affairs portfolios, is expected to appoint ministers who will take over the posts.
The move comes three weeks after the prime minister was charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three corruption cases in which he is accused of trading legislative or regulatory favors in exchange for gifts or favorable media coverage.
Netanyahu announced his decision to the Supreme Court after a petition had been launched by The Movement for Quality Government, demanding the indicted prime minister vacates all his post. The petition also demanded the court orders Netanyahu to resign from his post as Israel’s premier and appoints a temporary replacement.
Netanyahu’s attorneys emphasized that under Israeli law, a sitting prime minister charged with a crime is not required to step down or vacate any of his ministerial posts, but he nonetheless decided to respect the wishes of those urging him to resign.
"It’s unfortunate that the prime minister knowingly violated the law for weeks and only announced the resignation following our petition,” said The Movement for Quality Government said in response. “We call on the court to order the prime minister to resign immediately from all his duties, including as prime minister.”
"Netanyahu must fight to prove he’s an innocent man as a private individual and not as prime minister … and not drag the entire country with him to the defendant’s bench.”
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 afterNetanyahu and his main rival Benny Gantz failed to parlay the previous two ballots into a new coalition government.