The law may seem clear: a minister who has been indicted must resign. However, there is no such stipulation for a prime minister. The reason, according to most interpretations, is a practical one: if a prime minister were to resign, this would bring down the government and make a new coalition or elections necessary. Therefore, a sitting prime minister has automatic immunity.
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The deciding factor may well be whether Netanyahu is indicted on one or more of the charges against him. While many of his supporters might remain loyal to him through another election, there is still the option of avoiding a new election entirely if Netanyahu’s own party were to decide to join a coalition with Blue and White. This would only be possible if Likud replaced Netanyahu. At present this seems like a slim possibility, but these are unchartered waters in which anything could happen.
Yet a deeper explanation of the results lies not only with the tactics employed but also with changing demographics in Israeli society and growing internal divisions. It is also important to note the years of relative calm Israelis have experienced despite the con-inued occupation. Indeed, the occupation was rarely mentioned during the election campaign, except by the small parties on the left. Nor was the economy much of an issue. People may complain about the cost of living, especially the cost of housing, or poor hospital conditions. But the past several years have seen no economic crisis, and the economy appears to be running smoothly.
Israelis are more concerned with their economy and their security. Though they would like to resolve their long-running conflict with the Palestinians, or at least “separate” themselves from Palestinians and stop ruling over them in the West Bank, most Israelis see no safe or easy way to do so. However unsatisfactory it is, the status quo is bearable for them.
So far, this speculation is undermining discussion about the real issues facing Israelis today: the occupation, emerging apartheid, the anti-democratic nature of recent legislation, government incitement and racism. Only anti-corruption is accorded a central place and only because there are four cases pending against Netanyahu. A decision on whether he will be indicted will be announced before the elections.