Israel's High Court has rejected petitions submitted weeks earlier by several NGOs associated with the country's left-wing circles demanding the institution rule against letting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu form a government given his indictment charges.
The court has also decided to refrain from making a decision on whether the pact signed between the premier and his former rival Benny Gantz was in fact legal.
At the same time, the court admitted the coalition pact dividing power between Netanyahu and Gantz poised some challenges, primarily because it weakened the country's opposition but chose not to rule on the matter so as not to further mar its already damaged reputation.
The High Court of Justice as well as the entire judiciary system have long been accused of bias against the PM, with the situation spiraling out of control in November of last year, when masses took to the streets across the country following Netanyahu's indictment. Protesters called on the institution to take its hands off the PM and stop interfering in Israel's political processes.
Embracing the Decision
This time too many Israelis expressed support for the prime minister and emphasised that the court stay away from politics.
"Netanyahu has been given the full backing of the court. He can serve as the PM until there is a final decision in his case [trial due to begin on May 24 - ed.]. That's it. It is over. You can no longer say that he is a prime minister with three indictment cases... the court just proved that you are a bunch of haters who have been inciting from dusk till dawn", wrote one Twitter user, referring to activists in Israel that urged the court to interfere to remove Netanyahu from power.
נתניהו קיבל הכשר מלא מבגץ!לכהן כראש ממשלה עד לפסק דין חלוט!— sharon peri (@peri_sharon) May 6, 2020
זהו.תם עידן. אינכם יכולים עוד לברבר- ראש ממשלה עם 3 כתבי אישום. זהו. נגמר! בגץ נתן הכשר מלא לנתניהו והוכיח שאתם סתם חבורה של חולי שינאה חולנית שמסיתים מבוקר על ליל. pic.twitter.com/e5QHT22M2B
"The court knows what the public is thinking. They know that disqualifying Bibi will be an exaggeration. They no longer want to play with fire...they are scared that [had they chosen to interfere], they would have caused another round of elections. This is the end of the left-wing", wrote another tweep.
בגץ יודע ומרגיש את רחשי העם— MOSHE YIFRAH "צבא העם" ! (@MosheYifrah) May 6, 2020
הם יודעים שליפסול את ביבי זה יהיה מוגזם
הם לא משחקים יותר באש
העם מהם כבר לא מתרגש
הם פוחדים שנלך לבחירות בגללם
זה סופו של השמאל, שם הוא נעלם
11 פחדנים אז על מה אתם "דנים"
שרפתם יומיים בשביל רייטינג
לפחות עכשיו בזכות ביבי אתם סל"ב
ישרתם קו עם העיתונאים
"The left has to understand. We are the majority here. With all due respect to the High Court, it cannot replace the country's citizens. Left-wingers, you can now sink into depression. This time your attempt to steal democracy has failed".
על השמאל להפנים:אנו רוב. ורוב גדול מאוד.ועם כל הכבוד לבגץ!בגץ לא תחליף לעם. ולכן השמאל:נא להיכנס לדיכאון.לא הצליח לכם נסיון גניבת הדימוקרטיה.— sharon peri (@peri_sharon) May 6, 2020
End of Democracy?
But not everyone joined the chorus:
"As of tonight, fear has also fallen on the judges of the High Court. Sodom and Gomorrah. From tonight, every minister, every mayor, every public figure knows that it is permissible to steal, give bribes, get bribes, sexually harass, rape, and still be elected to public office. The words were over tonight...".
נכון להלילה , מורא נפל גם על שופטי בגץ. סדום ועמורה. מהלילה הזה כל שר כל איש ציבור , כל ראש עיר, יוכל לגנוב לשדוד, לתת שוחד , לקבל שוחד. להטריד מינית לאנוס , ולהיבחר לתפקיד ציבורי. נגמרו המילים הלילה. יש לקרא את דברי נביאי ישראל.— שלומי🏴shlomi (@vNfH7z6jsgZvsot) May 6, 2020
"Tonight is the end of the High Court, the rule of law and democracy", a fellow Twitterian weighed in.
בגץ: אין עילה משפטית להתערב בהטלת הממשלה על נתניהו וההסכם הקואליציוני.— אייבי בנימין (@AybeeBinyamin) May 6, 2020
הערב מתחיל הסוף של בגץ שלטון החוק והדמוקרטיה
Racing Against the Clock
Meanwhile, Netanyahu and Gantz agreed Wednesday to swear in their new government on May 13 after "completing necessary legislation".
This includes the voting that will take place later today on amending some of Israel's basic laws such as the Basic Law of the Government and extending the tenure of the political duo in the PM's chair until 2024, a year longer than what was initially planned in the coalition agreement.
In a parallel development, Netanyahu has also started collecting the 61 signatures needed for him to form a government. The deadline to submit his candidacy will expire on Thursday night. If he fails, Israel will go to the polls again, for the fourth time in under two years.
If the signatures are secured, Netanyahu will then have two weeks to form a government but as past experience has already taught him this will not be an easy task.
Although he has the backing of Israel's religious parties coupled with the support of the Blue and White giving the camp more than 70 legislators, the job of dividing the limited parliamentary posts might cause friction and unnecessary upheaval, something that Netanyahu would like to avoid at all costs.