image Photo: Flash90

High Court hears petitions against Netanyahu-Gantz unity deal

Israel’s High Court of Justice has convened for the second of two-day hearings on a series of separate petitions against the formation of the national emergency government.

Discussion by the extended panel of 11 justices was broadcast live on state television for the first time in history.

Chief Justice Esther Hayut explained that the court had “received eight petitions, which raise basic legal issues, two basic legal issues. One issue is related to tasking forming a government on a lawmaker who is charged with ethical crimes. Five out of the eight submitted petitions relate to this issue. The second issue is related to the validity of the instructions of the coalition deal which was signed on April 20, 2020 between the Likud faction in parliament to the Blue and White faction in parliament to form the 35th government of the State of Israel.”

Sunday’s session focused on the legality of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to establish a government while under criminal indictment for bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Today’s examined aspects of the deal he signed with former rival and current Knesset Speaker Benny Gantz that profoundly change to the nation’s semi-constitutional Basic Law, including contravention of established legislation and precedent.

The hearings were twice marked by a harsh exchange of words between Chief Justice Hayut with attorneys on both sides.

Rulings by the High Court – which in Israel is an integral part of the Supreme Court – are expected to be handed down no later than Thursday, 7 May.

A verdict against Netanyahu on either front is likely to trigger the country’s fourth election since April 2019; coming amid the struggle to overcome medical and economic crises caused by the coronavirus.