Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday night voiced his opposition to Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara's decision to bar him from involvement in the country's legal reform.
In a response to a High Court of Justice petition, Netanyahu stated that he accepts a previous conflict of interest order that restricts him from handling matters pertaining to the judicial system due to his ongoing corruption trial, but he opposes the prohibition on participating in the debate over the reform and the selection of judges.
He argued that "restricting the prime minister, especially restricting his freedom of expression, harms the freedom of expression of millions of citizens who voted for him. The prime minister cannot be prevented from influencing the extent of the reform and addressing it."
Netanyahu was indicted IN 2019 on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust linked to three corruption cases. He has denied any wrongdoing and accused prosecutors of colluding with allies in media, law enforcement and the political system to carry out a politically motivated witch-hunt in order to oust him from power.
In his response, Netanyahu further argued that the attorney general's decision was a "far-reaching interpretation" and "raises theoretical and distant concerns, and imposes blanket and irrelevant limitations."
The order rules that Netanyahu must is only allowed to speak out on the matter to lower the flames surrounding the contentious legislation, but must "not engage in the legal initiatives."
In a letter sent to Netanyahu last month by Baharav-Miara's deputy, it was stated that "in any situation where the prime minister finds himself in a conflict of interest and is required to exercise his powers, he must transfer them to another minister who will fill his place."
At the beginning of the letter, it was stated that a 2021 Supreme Court ruling on Netanyahu's matter ruled that "one of the basic assumptions on the basis of which the formation of the 35th government by Netanyahu was made possible, despite the pending indictment against him, was that he would arrange a conflict of interest settlement. Accordingly, the Prime Minister is prevented from engaging in any matter that has a substantial connection to the proceeding in his case or to the approval of which is being discussed."
With the formation of the 37th government about two months ago, it was determined by the attorney general after consultations with Netanyahu and with his consent that the conflict of interest order would continue to stand.