Blue and White and its leader MK Benny Gantz are considering holding a vote for representatives on the Knesset Judicial Selection Committee before the elections as a way of pressuring Likud into agreeing to the coalition deal that has been proposed for the formation of a new government.
Although Blue and White sources indicated on Saturday night that the two sides were close to a deal, an agreement was yet to be reached Sunday night, and the party is concerned about the Likud’s ongoing delays.
Although the committee does not usually convene to appoint judges during an interim government, it is possible it could do so if there are fourth elections, given the long-term paralysis to the political system and the possibility of its continuation.
The appointment of judges is a highly charged and sensitive issue for the right-wing, and weighing the selection committee in favor of centrists not controlled by the Rright could be an effective lever of pressure.
Sources in Blue and White told The Jerusalem Post that the party is actively considering this option after receiving information that appointing representatives to the committee is currently possible.
Former justice minister and senior Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked noted in response to the report, however, that there is currently a 61 MK majority of right-wing MKs, given the 58 MKs of the right-wing bloc, the two defectors from Telem MKs Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser, and MK Orly Levy Abecassis, who is politically right-wing although ran with Labor and Meretz in the election.
“There is a majority for the nationalist camp in the Knesset, if there are elections to the Judicial Selection Committee it is certainly possible to choose representatives from the right-wing,” wrote Shaked on Twitter.
Should a coalition deal not be signed by Monday, Blue and White has threatened to begin legislating laws to block Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from continuing to serve as premier due to the criminal indictments against him, and his impending trial.
The laws would prohibit an MK who is under indictment from forming a government, and would impose a two-term limit on all prime ministers.
Blue and White sources have said that the party is concerned that Netanyahu is simply trying to run out the clock on the ability to pass such legislation by keeping negotiations open without signing until the Knesset is automatically dissolved and new elections called on May 7, due to favorable polls for the Likud.
In the meantime, Yesh Atid leader MK Yair Lapid continued to criticize his erstwhile political ally Gantz at a Black Flags Demonstration, asserting that he could not fight Netanyahu while being part of his government, and would instead enable the prime minister to undermine the rule of law.
“You don’t fight corruption from within. If you’re inside, you’re part of it,” said Lapid during the keynote address at the rally, claiming that Netanyahu’s demands included the right to appoint new senior law enforcement and legal officials.
“A person [Netanyahu] with indictments can’t appoint a police chief, a state prosecutor, an attorney-general, [or] the judges who will deal with his case. That is Netanyahu’s list of demands. Those that give in to those demands aren’t an opposing voice, they are just decoration,” said Lapid.
“That’s how democracies die in the 21st century. They’re not wiped out by tanks overrunning parliament. They die from within. Five years ago Turkey was still a functioning democracy. Four years ago Hungary was still a democracy. They died from within.”
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman opined that Netanyahu has no intention of signing a coalition agreement with Gantz and his party and was simply playing for time.
“As someone who knows Netanyahu better than anyone I do not think he will sign an agreement with you today or tomorrow,” wrote Liberman on his Facebook page on Sunday, telling Gantz he should pass the legislation that has been submitted to the Knesset to block Netanyahu from serving any longer as prime minister due to the indictments against him.
Liberman added that these bills should be immediately expedited along the legislative process, and special Knesset committees established to prepare them for their readings in the Knesset plenum before new elections are called on May 7.
The Yisrael Beytenu leader said that Monday was the last day when it would be possible to start these legislative processes and complete them before elections are called and the Knesset is dispersed.