Israel Roundup: High Court Affirms Coalition, COVID-19 Cases Decline

  • In a unanimous decision, the High Court of 11 judges dismissed a petition, and allow Gantz and Netanyahu to proceed to form the new government.
  • In the last day, Israel recorded the lowest Coronavirus rise of only 21 new cases.
  • Israel again made an air attack on Iranian positions in Syria.

After failing to form a coalition government in three elections, it was decided that the two sides— Benny Gantz’s Israel Resilience Party, and Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud— should compromise. The compromise was made in the light of the emergency created by the Coronavirus.

Gantz (right), Netanyahu, and Chief Justice Esther Hayut.

Blue and White was a centrist alliance combining three parties.  In order to make this compromise, Gantz withdrew his party from Blue and White to join with Netanyahu and Likud, enabling a coalition government. The opposition to this move from these other two parties was led by Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid, and Moshe Ya’alon of Telem.

Avigdor Lieberman of the Yisrael Beiteinu party joined the opposition to petition the High Court that this move was not constitutional. At issue was Gantz’s alliance with an indicted Prime Minister. Netanyahu was already indicted on charges of fraud, breach of trust, and accepting bribes in series of scandals. In a unanimous decision, the High Court of 11 judges dismissed this petition, and allow Gantz and Netanyahu to proceed to form the new government.

Gantz and Netanyahu have agreed to form the new government on May 13.  Prime Minister Netanyahu’s indictment charges does not disqualify him from forming a government. The deal that Netanyahu made with Benny Gantz does not violate the law. Had the High Court ruled to disqualify Netanyahu, or his agreement with Gantz, the country would likely have been plunged into new elections, the fourth of the year.

The High Court did mention that certain parts of the deal, which was made between Gantz and Netanyahu, do have problems. However, it may only be necessary to deal with them later. “This is an unusual coalition agreement, with some clauses raising serious legal concerns,” said Chief Justice Esther Hayut. “For example, if the agreements on Norwegian Law are executed, they will constitute a retroactive change to the rules of the game,” she said, “and will result the decline of the status of the opposition in Israel.”

Demonstrators against the Gantz-Netanyahu government.

The controversy is over activation of the Norwegian Law, which allows ministers and deputy ministers to resign from the Knesset and enable the next candidate on their party list to enter. If the minister or deputy minister leaves cabinet, or the Knesset is dissolved, the former MK can return in place of their replacement.

This petition against the new government was made by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel.  They accepted this decision by the High Court, but will continue to protest. In a statement, the Movement simply said, “the Netanyahu-Gantz government is the exact definition of the expression ‘it’s kosher but it’s stinks.'”

In other news:

  • In the last day, Israel recorded the lowest Coronavirus rise of only 21 new cases.
  • Part of the coalition agreement between Gantz and Netanyahu includes the annexation of the West Bank.  Most Israelis oppose West Bank annexation. A poll made within the country showed that only one quarter of all respondents support the move.
  • The Health Minister, Yaakov Litzman of Agudat Yisrael, is resigning. The identity of the new health minister is still in question. Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, from the Yamina religious Zionist party, is determined to take this position. He has also threatened that his party will not join the new coalition unless he is given it. Yamina has seven mandates, which will not interfere with making the new United Emergency Government.
  • Israel again made an air attack on Iranian positions in Syria. There are pressures on Iran to leave Syria. There is also talk that they may soon withdraw their troops.
  • This week, for the first time since the Coronavirus crisis began, there were rockets from Gaza shot into Israel. Israel responded to this attack as usual.

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David Wexelman

Author of 5 books on the internet on topics of Jewish mysticism, managing two websites. www.progressivejewishspirituality.net
http://www.worldunitypeace.org

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