Benny Gantz's Kahol Lavan petitioned on Friday to Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, demanding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately leave all his ministerial positions.
The move came after Mendelblit announced Thursday that Netanyahu would be charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three corruption cases, dubbed Cases 4000, 2000 and 1000.
In their petition, Kahol Lavan emphasized that "according to the High Court of Justice, a minister against whom an indictment is filed, isn't able to continue holding his post, and therefore you [Netanyahu] are obligated to immediately leave your various ministerial positions in the government."
Taking to Facebook, Gantz said that all of Israel's citizens are equal before the law. "I would like to back the law enforcement officials, and urge them to continue fearlessly doing their job," Gantz said, adding that he's doing everything in his power to gain a majority in the Knesset to prevent another election cycle.
"I decided it's impossible to form a unity government with Netanyahu under current circumstances," the Kahol Lavan leader added in reference to the prime minister's legal woes.
Laying out the charges in a press conference on Thursday evening, Mendelblit said he made the decision to indict the prime minister "with a heavy heart, but wholeheartedly," stressing it was not an issue of left-wing or right-wing politics and that enforcing the law is not a matter of choice.
Following the attorney general's announcement, Netanyahu called the corruption charges filed against him "an attempted coup" against an acting prime minister, and that the process is meant to topple him.
- Is this what Netanyahu risked his legacy for?
- After Netanyahu indictment, Democrats, U.S. Jews stress similarities to Trump's legal woes
- Israel’s gatekeepers bravely stood up to Netanyahu. But the real battle lies ahead
He alleged that the "tainted investigation process" against him included fabricating cases. "This process, which culminated today is appalling. I'm not the only one appalled. Many of Israel's citizens are also appalled, and not only who those who are right-wing."
On Wednesday, the Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz announced he was unable to establish a governing coalition, hours before his midnight deadline for negotiations.
Returning the mandate to form a coalition to President Reuven Rivlin, Gantz has effectively plunged Israel's political sphere into even greater uncertainty, raising the stakes for a third election cycle within a year.
Labor-Gesher chairman Amir Peretz said Thursday that his party would petition the High Court of justice to order the prime minister to declare himself incapacitated and take a leave of absence.
"Labor-Gesher will argue that given the fact that the prime minister heads a transitional government, which did not gain the confidence of the Knesset, he must declare himself incapacitated as the law requires of government ministers," Peretz said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz expressed his support for Netanyahu. "I support the prime minister and stand by him in this difficult hour.
"It would appropriate that our political rivals also internalize that there son legal impediment to Netanyahu serving as prime minister, he can continue holding onto his position and only the public and its representatives in the Knesset will be the ones to democratically decide who would lead Israel during these challenging times," Katz said.
United Torah Judaism also backed Netanyahu, issuing a statement saying that "the prime minister is innocent until proven guilty, and in accordance to the law, he should be allowed to maintain his position until the court gives its final verdict."
Far-right Hayamin Hehadash's Ayelet Shaked expressed her trust in the attorney general. "Mendelblit is an honest man who makes his decisions independently and in accordance with the evidence presented to him," Shaked said.
"Even if we don't see eye to eye, and disagree on some of his decisions, it should be noted that his motives are strictly professional," Shaked said in reference to Netanyahu's remarks, according to which Mendelblit crumbled under the pressure applied on him by State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan and his colleagues.