Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Can Olmert continue as Prime Minister?

This is an interesting constitutional question. In Israel, the Prime Minister must be a sitting MK. As of today Olmert is no longer a sitting MK (as he did not run and the new Knesset was sworn in) and therefore should be disqualified to be Prime Minister. That would mean that Tzippi Livni would become acting Prime Minister until Netanyahu forms a government. I am surprised that no one has appealed to the Supreme Court yet.


There seem to be contradictory sections in the Basic Law.
Section 5 (b) The Prime Minister shall be a member of the Knesset. A Minister need not be a member of the Knesset.

This would seem to disqualify Olmert. However, if we look at sections 21(a) and 30(c) we get a different picture.

21. (a) Should the Prime Minister cease to function as a member of the Knesset, he will be deemed to have resigned; the Government shall be deemed to have resigned the same day.

Section 30(c) A Prime Minister who has resigned shall continue to carry out his functions pending the constitution of the new Government. If the Prime Minister has died, or is permanently incapacitated, from carrying out his duties, or if his tenure was ended because of an offense, the Government shall designate another of the Ministers who is a member of the Knesset and of the Prime Minister's faction to be Interim Prime Minister pending the constitution of the new Government.

What this seems to say is that the Prime Minister can continue carrying out his functions until a new government is formed even if he is not an MK.

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