Mandelblit Says PM Can’t Legalize Jordan Valley Town So Close to Election

Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit. (Flash90)

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s plan to normalize the legal status of Mevo’ot Yericho in the Jordan Valley faces internal obstacles.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit issued a legal opinion on Thursday against the move, which Netanyahu wants to present to the cabinet for a vote on Sunday.

Mandelblit notified the Prime Minister’s Office in a letter that previous High Court rulings prevent a caretaker government from taking such an action during an election period. Mandelblit argued that during the period immediately before general elections, the government must refrain from taking permanent action when there is no clear and immediate need.

Mandelblit added that he had consulted with the national security adviser to inquire whether there was any urgency in the matter, two days before the election, and was told that in his view there was none.

In a joint statement with the Defense Ministry’s legal advisor, the attorney general said: “There is a legal impediment to this decision during the election period. We were not presented with any evidentiary infrastructure or indication of the necessity or urgency to make the decision at the present time,” the two stated.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu said that legalizing the small town in the Jordan Valley would be the first stage in implementing annexation of the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea area after the election.