Court dismisses petition against Netanyahu forming government

Benjamin Netanyahu  / Photo: Screenshot, Globes
Benjamin Netanyahu / Photo: Screenshot, Globes

The High Court of Justice decided that it was premature to rule whether Benjamin Netanyahu could be asked to form a government after the forthcoming election.

A panel of three senior Supreme Court justices (Supreme Court President Esther Hayut, Vice President Hanan Melcer, and Uzi Vogelman) has dismissed a petition asking the court to state that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not have the right to receive a mandate from the state president to form the next government because of the three indictments that have been filed against him.

The justices wrote, "The petition must be dismissed because it is premature… The issue raised in the petition before us is indeed an important matter of principle. It concerns the principle of the rule of law, the integrity of public servants, and the public's faith in government institutions. It therefore involves the core of the basic values on which our legal system rests. There are therefore no grounds for the argument by the respondents (Netanyahu and the Likud party, A.G.) that the matter involved is not justiciable. At the same time, to borrow a familiar phrase from another sphere, the election system is a 'kingdom of uncertainty.' The petitioners regard removal of this uncertainty on the legal question as a supreme value, but it should be kept in mind in this context that in the  election system in Israel, voting is for party lists, not a direct selection of candidates for prime minister. The respondent is fit to run in the upcoming elections at the head of the respondents' list, in the absence of any legal restriction forbidding him to do so, regardless of the ruling on the issue raised in the petition. It should also be kept in mind that various factual developments are likely to affect the relevance of the ruling and the degree to which it corresponds to the real situation.

"Finally, this court has already ruled in the past that an election period is a politically sensitive period, and that it is therefore proper to exercise restraint. This approach is correct, perhaps even more so, in the current period, which is extremely sensitive and difficult politically for Israel - a period with no precedent in the history of Israeli governments."

The hearing took place last Tuesday. Although the issue involved was a fateful one on the eve of an election, the atmosphere outside the courthouse was relaxed and calm. Dozens of renowned and distinguished petitioners attended the hearing, such as Carmi Gillon, Prof. David Harel, Yehoshua Sobol, and Prof. Uzi Arad, who were represented by Adv. Daphna Holtz-Lechner. At the outset of the hearing, Hayut made it clear that the panel intended to deal solely with the preliminary question of whether the Attorney General and the Supreme Court should address the substantial question or dismiss the petition out of hand.

Melcer commented that the petitioners apparently did not rely on any legal source whatsoever in order to establish their petition. Hayut said that we did not know what the election results would be. "After the election, the authority will be given to the state president, and he, after consultation, will decide which member of Knesset has the best chance to form a government. There is a junction there, in which the president exercises his authority. The question is why now and not at the next junction. This is the question we have set before you. I have heard no answer until now."

Presumption of innocence: Even after the decision to file an indictment against him, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is only a suspect. He denies the offenses of which he is accused, has been convicted of no crime, and is entitled to a presumption of innocence.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on January 2, 2020

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2020

Benjamin Netanyahu  / Photo: Screenshot, Globes
Benjamin Netanyahu / Photo: Screenshot, Globes
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