Netanyahu: Court's Intervention in Deal With Gantz Could Lead to Fourth Election

Earlier on Monday, the High Court examined coalition deal between Kahol Lavan party and Likud, calling into question a clause that states no senior appointments will be made in the first six months of government

Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech at his Jerusalem office, March 14, 2020.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech at his Jerusalem office, March 14, 2020.Credit: Gali Tibbon/REUTERS
Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday evening that the High Court of Justice's intervention in the coalition agreement between his Likud party and Benny Gantz's Kahol Lavan "could increase the likelihood of a fourth election."

Earlier on Monday, the High Court picked apart the coalition agreement between Kahol Lavan party and Likud, in the second day of discussions over the broader topic of Netanyahu's continued role in government with three criminal indictments.

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In a session that lasted nine hours, an expanded panel comprising 11 of the court’s 15 justices heard petitions against the coalition agreement. The session was broadcast live due to its significance. 

While taking questions from reporters after announcing an easing in coronavirus regulations, Netanyahu said that "In a democracy, the people decide who will lead the nation, I was elected with the most votes. The party I lead [Likud] got more votes than any other party a huge majority of the people want me to lead the government and there's a huge majority in the Knesset that also want this and so it should be."

"It is not desirable that any agent, neither clerks nor the court will intervene in this basic thing," Netanyahu continued. "Our agreement with Kahol Lavan has been carefully constructed, very carefully, with great responsibility, and its appeal can increase the likelihood of a fourth election. I hope the High Court does not do so."

On Sunday, the court heard a petition seeking to disqualify anyone under criminal indictment from serving as prime minister, which would prevent Netanyahu from serving in light of the criminal charges against him.

The two matters are intimately linked, as Netanyahu's Likud party only won 36 Knesset seats out of 120 in the last election, and prior to the deal with Kahol Lavan, did not have a necessary majority in the Knesset to form a government.

During Monday's session, the justices criticized the petitioners against the coalition agreement and said that at this junction, there is no justification to disqualify it, as the legislation is calls for has yet to be promoted in the Knesset. 

However, they expressed reservations about certain clauses, including the one calling for no senior appointments to be made in the government's first six months. Supreme Court President Esther Hayut asked: "What's the connection between the coronavirus and appointing a police commissioner?" According to the state's representative at the session, the clause goes against Israeli law and the independence of the country's law enforcement establishments.

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