Israeli court deliberates whether to disqualify Netanyahu as future PM

Jerusalem, May 3 (efe-epa).- Israel’s Supreme Court began deliberations on Sunday on whether Benjamin Netanyahu can serve as prime minister due to corruption charges against him.

Netanyahu is due to form a coalition government with his centrist former rival Benny Gantz on Thursday.

The court hearing, which will take place over two days and is being broadcast live, is expected to announce a decision on Wednesday.

A panel of 11 judges has begun hearing arguments for and against disqualifying Netanyahu as prime minister of the new government after he was accused of fraud, bribery and breach of trust in three separate corruption cases, for which he is due to stand trial on 24 May.

The lawsuit asks the Supreme Court to clarify whether a defendant accused of corruption can form a government.

Israeli law prevents an individual from being a minister in these circumstances, although it does not explicitly refer to the chief executive.

Chief Justice Esther Hayut said during Sunday’s proceedings: “Today we shall hear arguments on the question of bestowing the duty of forming a government on a Knesset member against whom an indictment has been filed.

“Tomorrow there will be a hearing on the second issue, regarding the coalition agreement.”

Netanyahu’s representatives have argued that the judiciary should not “intervene in the democratic process” of the people and parliamentarians.

The judges will hear the arguments against a coalition agreement between Netanyahu and Gantz on Monday.

Their power-sharing agreement includes a joint investiture of Netanyahu and Gantz as prime minister and rotating prime minister and reduces the government’s mandate to three years.

Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, plans to vote on amendments to the law to enable the proposal to go ahead on Thursday, when the term to form a government ends.

Netanyahu and Gantz have been enmeshed in lengthy negotiations to come to an agreement and avoid calling Israelis to the polls for the fourth time in just over a year.

Analysts have defined this week as “decisive” for the country’s democratic system.

Some have warned that allowing a defendant to form a government in Israel would set a negative precedent for the rule of law.

Others have said that a decision by the Supreme Court would be an interference of the justice in the democratic process.

Gantz agreed to form a unity government with Netanyahu, previously his rival, to avoid further elections and out of consideration for the coronavirus pandemic, ending the country’s political blockade. EFE-EPA


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