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Israel's Netanyahu to resign from four ministerial roles

Lawyers tell court that Prime Minister Netanyahu will retain his premiership

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks at his watch before delivering a statement at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem December 19, 2018. Reuters
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks at his watch before delivering a statement at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem December 19, 2018. Reuters

Lawyers for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have told a court that the prime minister will step down from four ministerial positions, but retain his position as prime minister.

Facing corruption charges and a third general election in a year, Mr Netanyahu will resign as health minister, social welfare minister, diaspora minister and acting agricultural minister by January 1, his lawyers said on Thursday.

The announcement to the Israeli Supreme Court came on the same morning that parliament dissolved itself and set a date for a new election, the third within a year.

The Supreme Court of Israel had received a petition from the Movement for Quality of Government in Israel demanding that Mr Netanyahu step down from all his positions in light of his indictments.

This has come after Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit last month charged Prime Minister Netanyahu with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in three different corruption cases.

Israeli law stipulates that ministers facing criminal charges resign, but has no such provision for prime ministers hence Mr Netanyahu's retention of his premiership.

Following the petition, Mr Mandelblit said that while Prime Minister Netanyahu could not be forced to resign as premier, the issue of his ministerial positions would be addressed later.

In the Thursday submission to the court, Mr Netanyahu's legal team said "he will cease being a minister by January 1, 2020, and appoint other ministers instead.

"The prime minister will continue to be prime minister, as per the law," attorneys Avi Halevy and Michael Rabello said.

Updated: December 12, 2019 03:56 PM

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