Tel Aviv, Aug. 12, 2020 Israeli lawmakers on Wednesday rejected an opposition bill that would have made it illegal for an indicted member of parliament to form a government.
The motion was targeted at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is standing trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
Netanyahu’s coalition has been bickering for weeks over the state budget, leading to rising speculation that it will collapse.
That could precipitate Israel’s fourth election in less than two years.
If the bill had passed, Netanyahu would have been prevented from becoming prime minister once again.
The bill introduced by opposition leader Yair Lapid was opposed by 53 lawmakers, with 37 in support and the remainder of the 120-seat-parliament absent.
According to Israeli law, a prime minister only has to resign if they are convicted.
Lapid argued the reason for this is that the legislature never imagined “someone on trial for serious criminal offences would insist on entrenching himself in the Prime Minister’s Residence.”
Netanyahu accused Lapid of being undemocratic for seeking to pass a bill that targets one man.
The vote came after a bill to extend the Aug. 25 deadline for the state budget passed a preliminary reading, in a bid to stave off early elections which would automatically be called if the deadline is missed.
The bill needs to pass three more readings.