Israel's Supreme Court hears case against a law protecting Netanyahu from being removed from office

Mr. Netanyahu’s governing coalition passed a law in March that limits removing a prime minister from office to cases of medical and mental incapacitation

August 04, 2023 02:45 am | Updated 02:45 am IST - JERUSALEM

Esther Hayut, chief justice of the Supreme Court of Israel, center, sits on the bench with justices Uzi Vogelman, left, and Issac Amit, right, during a hearing on a petition against a law that limits removal of a prime minister from office to medical and mental incapacitation.

Esther Hayut, chief justice of the Supreme Court of Israel, center, sits on the bench with justices Uzi Vogelman, left, and Issac Amit, right, during a hearing on a petition against a law that limits removal of a prime minister from office to medical and mental incapacitation. | Photo Credit: AP

Israel's Supreme Court heard a petition on Thursday against a law that protects Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from being removed from office over claims of a conflict of interest due to his ongoing corruption trial.

Mr. Netanyahu's governing coalition passed a law in March that limits removing a prime minister from office to cases of medical and mental incapacitation. It would protect Mr. Netanyahu from being deemed unfit for office because of his ongoing corruption trial and claims of a conflict of interest. Critics say the law is tailor-made for Mr. Netanyahu and encourages corruption.

Also read | Israel’s PM Netanyahu rushed to hospital, his office says he is in ‘good condition’

A few dozen people protested outside Israel’s Supreme Court in Jerusalem as judges heard the petition by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel.

The law passed earlier this year stipulates that a prime minister can only be deemed unfit to rule for health or mental reasons and that only the premier or the government can make that decision, not the attorney general.

Mr. Netanyahu is on trial for charges of fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in three separate cases.

The hearing came as Mr. Netanyahu and his allies are trying to pass a series of judicial overhaul bills that aim to curtail the power of the Supreme Court and give the ruling coalition control over the appointment of judges. It remained unclear when the court would issue a decision in the matter.

The judicial overhaul plan has triggered months of mass protests in an increasingly divided Israel as opponents say the measures would concentrate power in the hands of the executive and erode the limited checks and balances.

Mr. Netanyahu and his allies, who took power in December after the country's fifth election in under four years, say that these changes are necessary to curb what they see as an overly activist court made up of unelected judges.

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