Mandelblit to High Court: No Legal Issue With Allowing Netanyahu Form Gov’t

Israelis dressed in black protest against government corruption and for democracy, outside the Supreme Court in Yerushalayim on Thursday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Attorney General Mandelblit told the High Court on Thursday that there is no legal issue with giving Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu the mandate and allowing him to form a government, even though he is under indictment.

Mandelblit said that despite major legal problems with other controversial aspects of the Likud-Blue and White coalition deal, the High Court should let the government form and probe specifics if and when concrete problems arise.

The High Court will make the final decision following hearings on Sunday and Monday on that issue and on controversial changes to the Basic Laws that are part of the Likud-Blue and White coalition deal.

On Sunday the court is scheduled to hear petitions from several advocacy groups against a coalition government deal reached by Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz. The two reached a power-sharing agreement earlier this month after more than a year of political stalemate and three deadlocked national elections.

The groups are asking the High Court to ban any indicted politician, including Netanyahu, from being allowed to form a new government.

If the court rules in favor of the petitioners, the Netanyahu-Gantz deal could unravel, plunging the country into a fourth election in just over a year.

On Tuesday, Likud and Blue and White filed their official responses to the petitions, arguing that the court ought to keep out of political matters.

Until now, the High Court had rejected most petitions against Netanyahu as premature, as it was unknown whether Netanyahu would be tasked to form the next government. With the deal between Netanyahu and Gantz, that issue moved from theoretical to imminent.

Meanwhile, dozens of protesters rallied Thursday outside the High Court against the petitions to disqualify Netanyahu from serving as prime minister while under criminal charges. Around 100 people, many waving Israeli flags and maintaining mandatory social distancing, staged a demonstration against what they called court intervention in the democratic process.

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