President Rivlin entrusting Prime Minister Netanyahu with forming the government.
(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
The High Court of Justice on Tuesday rejected two petitioners who sought to block President Reuven Rivlin from appointing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form the next government on the basis of the public corruption allegations he faces.
The Movement for the Quality of Government in Israel and lawyer Shahar Ben Meir filed the petition, stating that Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit’s February 28 announcement of an intent to indict Netanyahu for bribery and his 57-page letter of criminal suspicions were sufficient to disqualify the prime minister from the role of forming the next government.
They further argued that Rivlin had grossly violated his discretion as president by ignoring these allegations against Netanyahu and tapping him to continue in the role of prime minister.
Combined, they said that these developments would undermine the public’s faith in the rule of law.
In addition, they added that the law regarding when a prime minister could be forced out should not come into play, as the unprecedented question which they said the law does not address, was whether a person with such grave criminal suspicions against them can be given the right to lead forming a government.
Justices Ofer Grosskopf, Yosef Elron and Daphna Barak Erez unanimously rejected the petition out-of-hand.
They said that even without going into the heart of the argument, that the law regarding how the president appoints a Knesset member to be the one to form the next government is based on recommendations from the relevant political parties and not based on pre-indictment allegations.
Without addressing the allegations against Netanyahu, the court made it clear that prior to an indictment, none of the cases cited by the petitioners were analogous or relevant to the current situation.
Mandelblit is expected to make a final decision to indict Netanyahu by or before February 2020 at which time the petitioners may refile their petition and legal scholars are split on how the High Court will rule.
However, at this pre-indictment stage, even with a letter of criminal suspicions, the High Court formally dismissed the petitioners and appeared to lecture them for ignoring the will of the voters and the law regarding presidential discretion.
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