Israel’s Top Court to Hear Petition Against Netanyahu-Gantz Coalition Deal

Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a press conference at the Health Ministry in Jerusalem, March 8, 2020.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a press conference at the Health Ministry in Jerusalem, March 8, 2020.Credit: Emil Salman
Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel

Israel’s High Court of Justice decided Thursday to hear petitions against the coalition agreement signed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz and against allowing a criminal defendant to form a government.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was indicted last year for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three separate criminal cases, pending a hearing. 

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Supreme Court Justice Isaac Amit ordered the state to submit a response to the key issues presented in the petitions.

Amit said that in light of the tight schedule, the state must prepare for the possibility that the High Court will expedite its rulings on the petitions, as if a temporary injunction had been issued on the matter. Six previous petitions to prevent a criminal defendant from forming a government were categorically denied.

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit will have to submit his legal opinion on the matter of the coalition agreement by Sunday. However, it’s possible that Mendelblit will say he is not interested in commenting on the issue of allowing a criminal defendant to form a government. Mendelblit has previously declined to express his stance on the subject, and said he would issue a legal opinion only after the president explicitly requests that a criminal defendant form a government.

Attorney Dafna Holz-Lechner, who is representing some of the petitioners, said she was “satisfied by the ruling, which shows the court sees that enormous urgency in making a ruling is necessary, and the willingness that is implied to hear the matter in-depth.”

The petitioners included the Yesh Atid party, Movement for Quality Government in Israel, Movement for Integrity (Tohar Midot), and the nonprofit groups Democratic Guard and New Contract.

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