Groups Reboot High Court Petitions Against Netanyahu Forming a Government

YERUSHALAYIM -
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (R) and Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz sign the coalition agreement on Monday night in the Prime Minister’s residence in Yerushalayim. (PMO)

With the signing of a coalition agreement between Likud and Blue and White, three petitions were filed Tuesday with the High Court opposing the agreement, which will leave Binyamin Netanyahu as prime minister for the next year and a half. The petitions claim that as a prime minister under indictment, Netanyahu is not eligible to appoint officials like justice minister, who could influence the proceedings against him.

The petitions were actually filed after the election, when Netanyahu was trying to convince MKs from the opposition to join a government he would form. The court at the time rejected the petitions, saying that it was too soon to discuss the matter, as no government was even near formation. Now that one is, the court said that it would hear the petitions, and has given the Likud until Thursday to respond.

The petitions were filed by several groups, among them a group of 123 former security officials who claim that it is illegal for an indicted individual to serve as prime minister. A second petition was filed by a group call Democracy Watch, which seeks to persuade the court to prevent President Reuven Rivlin from giving Netanyahu the green light to form a government.

The third was filed by the Movement for Quality Government, which claims that Netanyahu is currently not an “official” prime minister but only an “acting” one, which means that limitations on MKs regarding indictments should apply to him as well.

The Likud has claimed that as prime minister, the Basic Law that allows a sitting prime minister to continue working until he is convicted should apply to Netanyahu. The petition claims that with the fall of the previous government, Netanyahu’s status has been reduced to that of an MK who is simply “caretaking,” and laws that prevent MKs who were indicted on corruption charges should apply to him as well.

Movement head Eliad Shraga said that “it does not make sense that a man like this will go to court in the morning and sit in the chair of the defendant, and then go back to manage matters of state, possibly sending our children to war. I am hopeful the court will intervene and set norms for these issues.”