High Court: How can Knesset Speaker reject will of 61 MK majority?

Knesset committees to be formed today despite Netanyahu's threats.

Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah (photo credit: Courtesy)
Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A special broad five justice panel of the High Court of Justice late Sunday appeared to side with the Blue and White party's petition to force Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein to make the new Knesset start functioning.
All five justices, President Esther Hayut, Vice President Hanan Melcer, Uzi Vogelman, Neal Hendel and Yitzhak Amit expressed vehement discomfort with the idea that he was rejecting the will of a 61 MK majority, with Hendel asking if there was any precedent for this.
Both Blue and White and the Movement for the Quality of Government’s petitions asked the court to compel Edelstein to enable voting to form Knesset committees and to choose a new speaker.
Edelstein expressed confidence that the courts would not intervene with the work of the Knesset. He said he intended to form the committees on Monday and only delayed it until then, because he was giving a chance to coalition talks. Edelstein said electing a new speaker would prevent a unity government's formation and Likud and its satellite parties warned that coaliton talks would stop if Edelstein was ousted. 
However, justice after justice endorsed the view of the petitioners, who were supported by Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit’s office, that Edelstein had exceeded his powers and an ironclad rule that a majority is decisive. A lawyer representing Mandelblit said that Edelstein’s move to delay the vote to oust him was a danger to democracy.
Melcer said that in the current crisis over the coronavirus, it was even more crucial for the Knesset to perform oversight of the executive branch.
Knesset lawyer Eyal Yinon had made it clear that he disagrees with Edelstein personally, but believes the Knesset Speaker has some, though not unlimited, discretion in delaying the vote to oust him. Yinon appeared to want the court to let the political process work out as long as it was resolved within a period of weeks.
Blue and White did not wait for a formal ruling to declare victory. Blue and White leader Benny Gantz said he would make sure that Knesset committees are formed on Monday to start dealing with the coronavirus. 
"Israel's democracy will never be held hostage to narrow politics or dependent on any negotiations," Gantz said. 
Blue and White faction head Avi Nissenkorn added that he was "happy the court made clear the importance and urgency of the Knesset's work during this crisis."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Blue and White's insistence on passing laws to oust him and voting to oust Edelstein instead of joining a unity government could force an unnecessary fourth election and prevent the government from dealing with the virus and its economic impact.
Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit submitted his opinion to the Supreme Court on Sunday and stated that recent Health Ministry regulations to prevent the spread of coronavirus do not dictate that the Knesset should not meet.  
Known as the Order to ensure the Health of the Public, the instructions were used by Edelstein as a reason to shut down the Knesset as it has 120 members when in session. The instructions limit the number of people able to gather in a single space to 10 people.  
In his opinion, the attorney-general said that it is essential that during such an epidemic that the Knesset will meet and offer oversight on what the current administration is doing.
Hagay Hacohen contributed to this report