Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Thursday that he will be dropping all of his portfolios by January 1 besides his role as premier.
Currently, besides being prime minister, Netanyahu is health minister, social welfare minister, Diaspora minister and acting agricultural minister.
Pressure for Netanyahu to drop these portfolios spiked after Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit announced a final indictment for the prime minister on November 21.
Netanyahu has been facing criminal indictment on charges of bribery and fraud and breach of trust in three separate criminal investigations.
Shortly after, the Movement for the Quality of Government in the Zionist entity filed a petition to the High Court both to get Netanyahu fired as prime minister and to force his resignation from his other ministerial roles.
On November 25, Mandelblit defended Netanyahu’s ability to remain prime minister, but deferred his view on whether Netanyahu could keep the other roles, hinting that he understood that Netanyahu would voluntarily resign them.
In light of Netanyahu’s announcement to voluntarily relinquish the roles, Mandelblit told the High Court on Thursday that he no longer needs to express a legal opinion about whether the court should force Netanyahu’s resignation regarding those roles.
Meanwhile, the Zionist entity will hold an unprecedented third election in less than a year, following the failure of political leaders to break the ongoing deadlock.
The Knesset had until midnight Wednesday to agree on a politician who could command the support of 61 out of the 120 members of Israeli parliament. When no one was able to garner the minimum backing, an election in March 2020 was automatically triggered.
Netanyahu also faces a serious challenge within his own Likud party — a leadership contest is tentatively scheduled for December 26th.
If he remains the head of the party he has led for more than a decade, the 70-year-old Israeli leader will face off in March against his now familiar foe, former Israeli Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, whose Blue and White party emerged from September’s elections with the most seats. Like Netanyahu, Gantz was also unable to form a government.
In a blame game that began almost immediately after the last elections, Netanyahu pinned the failure to form a government on Gantz’s party, accusing it of a “barrage of spins.”
In a video statement on social media Wednesday evening, Netanyahu said, “[Blue and White wants] to hide the fact that they did everything in order to avoid forming a broad unity government that would have annexed the Jordan Valley,” referring to the fact that Gantz refused to join forces and serve under him.
Blue and White fired back, telling Netanyahu to “save some of the lies for the campaign.” In the Knesset, Gantz blamed Netanyahu for the political stalemate, saying, “It now seems like we will be going into a third election cycle because of Netanyahu’s attempt to obtain immunity.”
Source: Israeli media