Opinion Article

Embattled Netanyahu's Incapacitation Provision Goes to Court

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's political future hangs in the balance as the Israeli Supreme Court hears arguments on his government's incapacitation provision amendment. The amendment provides a limit to the government's ability to assert that its leader is unable to function due to a physical or mental impediment. This is pertinent because Netanyahu faces widespread corruption charges and calls for him to resign from a host of prominent figures, including retired military generals and opposition politicians. With Israel expecting general elections in November, this scandal couldn't have arrived at a worse time.

The Israeli Supreme Court as a Bulwark Against Scrutiny

The Supreme Court has had a bittersweet relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu, with several high-profile decisions going against him. In 2017, the court upheld a decision to evacuate an illegal settlement, Amona, which was built on private Palestinian land. The court has consistently refused his requests for a more pliant justice system. This puts it in a precarious position, given the current political atmosphere, where many Netanyahu supporters view the Supreme Court as a destabilizing influence on Israeli democracy.

The Implications of the Amendment

The incapacitation provision amendment was driven by Netanyahu's coalition partners, who view it as necessary to prevent opponents from invoking it to force early elections. Critics argue that it has eroded Israeli democracy's sanctity by creating an insidious mechanism to avoid unpalatable election outcomes. As Israeli political analyst Avraham Diskin explains: "this is a very delicate issue because, on the one hand, you want to have a prime minister who is healthy, and on the other hand, you don't want to have a bogeyman or the mechanism used in uncertain situations to depose the prime minister."

Netanyahu's Scandals and Israel's Future

With three separate corruption cases against him, Netanyahu has attempted a number of legal maneuvers to avoid indictment. His coalition partners have largely remained loyal, but the amendment could erode this loyalty if it is seen as a self-serving attempt to wield power. The November 2021 General Elections may resolve the matter from a political standpoint, but the legal implications will still linger.

Ongoing Scrutiny of Israel's Leadership

Israel is a society that has always placed great faith in its leaders, given its history of conflict and vulnerability. However, the recent scandal surrounding Netanyahu raises concerns about the proper exercise of political power. There needs to be a robust system of checks and balances to ensure that rogue leaders do not make use of the trappings of power to evade responsibility. This amendment exposes the fault lines within Israeli governance, but it also provides an opportunity to correct them.

The Intersection of Law and Politics

Israel is a country that is heavily dependent on its legal system, having no written constitution. The Supreme Court has carved out a unique space for itself as a protector of democratic values. This amendment to the incapacitation provision is part of a long-standing trend of politicization, which seeks to undermine this system. The task before the Supreme Court is to ensure that justice is served and that Israel's legal system remains strong in the face of political pressure.

The Global Significance of Netanyahu's Scandal

The scandal surrounding Netanyahu and the incapacitation provision has much wider global significance. It highlights the dangers of concentrating too much power in the hands of one leader, and it shows the need for oversight mechanisms to prevent abuses. Israel has long been admired as a functioning democracy with a robust legal system. Its handling of this ongoing crisis will be a test of its resilience and an indication of the country's future course.


The incapacitation provision amendment threatens to undermine Israeli democracy by creating a mechanism for leaders to entrench themselves in power. It is a dangerous precedent that must be resisted by all those who cherish democratic values. Israel has always been a robust democracy, and it is our hope that it will remain so. The courts must ensure that the rule of law is upheld, and that no one individual is above it.

Israel Supreme Court hearings on amendment to PM incapacitation provision-