Government okays bill setting term limits for PMs, aims for Knesset vote Monday – The Times of Israel

Ministers on Sunday approved a bill limiting prime ministers to eight years in office, with the coalition reportedly aiming to bring it for a Knesset vote on Monday.

The legislation must clear three Knesset plenum readings before becoming law.

After a ministerial committee greenlit the legislation last week, ministers voted via phone on Sunday.

The proposed amendment to Israel’s semi-constitutional Basic Laws would force a prime minister to step down after eight consecutive years in power, requiring the formation of a new government, though not necessarily new elections.

The bill also bars a person from being premier even if they have served two non-consecutive terms as prime minister, if no more than three years separate the tenures.

If the gap between the tenures is more than three years, the eight-year counter is reset, according to the proposed bill.

The proposed bill would not be applied retroactively, and therefore would not prevent Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu from running again for office.

Cumulatively, Netanyahu has served as prime minister for 15 years, 12 of them consecutively since 2009. He is currently on trial in three corruption cases, though he denies any wrongdoing.

Then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) speaks to then-education minister Gideon Sa’ar, as they arrive at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, on August 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Uriel Sinai/Getty Images, Pool, File)

Setting term limits with the aim of curtailing Netanyahu’s political career was a key element in negotiations to form the current coalition government.

Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, the bill’s sponsor, insists that the bill is not aimed personally at Netanyahu, though he is also working on legislation that would rule out as a potential premier anyone indicted for a crime that comes with a minimum three-year sentence and moral turpitude.

Such a law would apply to Netanyahu and would keep him out of the prime minister’s seat. That proposal was said to be backed by the Yesh Atid and Yisrael Beytenu parties, along with Sa’ar’s New Hope party.

The proposed law, if approved, would take effect after the next elections, when a new Knesset is sworn in.

A separate bill limiting the terms of mayors would also be advanced later, Sa’ar tweeted last week. It too would limit them to two terms, but allow a third term if they receive more than 50 percent of the vote.

Raoul Wootliff contributed to this report.

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Government okays bill setting term limits for PMs, aims for Knesset vote Monday – The Times of Israel

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