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Netanyahu insists on intervening in judicial overhaul due to “national crisis”

The premier denies there is a conflict of interest, refers to Herzog’s warning of a potential civil war

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Justice Minister Yariv Levin at a discussion and a vote in the Knesset assembly hall in Jerusalem, Mar. 27, 2023. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In a filing to Israel’s Supreme Court on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he has a responsibility to be involved in Israel’s judicial overhaul as the country faces the possibility of a “national crisis.” 

Israel’s longest serving prime minister was ordered to stay out of legislation related to the country’s judicial system because of his ongoing trial for breach of trust and bribery.

In 2020, Netanyahu signed a conflict-of-interest deal which prohibits him from making senior law enforcement and judicial appointments, or playing any role in legislative matters which could affect his ongoing trial for corruption charges.

Netanyahu denied there would be a conflict of interest in his involvement and made a reference to Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s warning of a potential civil war in the country. 

“With all due respect to any conflict-of-interest agreement, when there is an issue that the president says could lead to a civil war; when the president of the United States and world leaders express a position on an issue and discuss it with the prime minister; when the issue affects the security of the country and its economy, the prime minister must, by virtue of his position, manage the matter and be involved in it – and this has nothing whatsoever to do with his personal affairs. This is the meaning of the role of the prime minister, and this is the meaning of the choice of the citizens of the State of Israel,” the premier’s attorneys stated in a formal letter. 

In late March, Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara criticized Netanyahu, following his first public announcement when he stated his intention to be personally involved in Israel’s judicial reform controversy. 

“In doing so, you violated the ruling of the Supreme Court, according to which, as a prime minister accused of crimes, you must refrain from taking actions that give rise to a reasonable fear of the existence of a conflict-of-interest between your personal interests relating to the criminal proceedings and your role as prime minister,” said Baharav-Miara. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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