High Court: No Reason for Court to Rule on PM’s Fitness to Form Government

The Supreme Court in Yerushalayim.

There is no reason for the High Court to get involved in the political process and rule on the appropriateness of Binymin Netanyahu forming a government if he is elected to do so, the court ruled Tuesday. The law does not forbid Netanyahu from doing so, even if he is indicted on corruption charges. “He has a right to run,” High Court chief justice Esther Hayout wrote in her opinion. “We don’t know what the results will be.”

If Netanyahu does win and has Knesset support to form a government, it will be up to President Reuven Rivlin to decide if the weight of the indictments against Netanyahu are sufficient to disqualify him from being the prime minister.

Similarly, the court would at that time be able to hear arguments on the constitutionality of allowing an individual in the midst of a corruption trial from being named prime minister, she said.

In response to petitions that the court rule that Netanyahu not be allowed to form a government, Hayout said that the petitioners were a few months too early; only after the election could it intervene in how the government is formed, and by whom. “Why do we need to get involved now,” she asked. The court is set to give its final ruling at the end of Tuesday’s session.

Attorneys for Netanyahu said that they did not believe the High Court was the right forum for a discussion of the fitness of Netanyahu to be named prime minister. “Even the most liberal judges, such as Aharon Barak, would agree that interference with the political process by the court is egregious. The court does not belong in politics.”

Speaking at an event Tuesday, Rivlin said that in principle, the court need not get involved in political matters. With that, “there is an important issue to be decided regarding values and the will of the people. We need to deal with these things very seriously. In a democracy, the will of the people is what counts, but the people need to decide properly,” he said.