Anti-Netanyahu bill triggers heated debates in the Knesset

Legislation to prevent indicted candidate from forming a government not expected to reach vote before elections; Netanyahu allies say bill tabled to stop popular leader

Nina Fuchs, Moran Azulay|
The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on Sunday began a debate over the so-called defendant bill which would prevent opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu from running in the next elections.
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    מליאת הכנסת
    מליאת הכנסת
    Benjamin Netanyahu
    (Photo: EPA)
    Netanyahu is on trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in the Jerusalem District Court, charges he denies.
    Supporters of the legislation pointed out that teachers under indictment are barred from continuing to occupy their position, propounding that the same should go for the premiership.
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    מליאת הכנסת
    מליאת הכנסת
    Knesset plenum
    (Photo: AFP)
    Despite the proposed bill being a core election promise for some members of the outgoing coalition, it had faced stiff opposition from Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's Yamina party and never came up for a vote before as a result.
    In a bid to leave the door open for a future government to introduce the bill for a vote, the Labor party and others attempted to push the legislation thorugh a preliminary reading before the Knesset dissolves.
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    נפתלי בנט
    נפתלי בנט
    Naftali Bennett and Boaz Toporovsky
    (Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch)
    Members of Netanyahu's conservative bloc slammed the legislation, which they say targets only one specific person, and called to avoid deliberations on it in the months leading to Israel's fifth snap election in just over three years.
    Netanyahu's allies dubbed the legislation an undemocratic attempt to block the Likud leader from running despite enjoying the support of a significant part of the public. "Netanyahu is several levels above you and you all know it," said MK Shlomo Karhi, a Likud lawmaker and a staunch supporter of the former prime minister. "Your democracy is worse than the dictatorship in Iran."
    Meanwhile, Coalition Whip Boaz Toporovsky threw his weight behind the legislation, saying it is meant to "ensure an honest election".
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