Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit on Monday told the High Court of Justice he should only have to give his view on whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can form the next government, as well as other controversial aspects of the coalition deal, after the parties involved respond.
Last Thursday, the High Court ordered Mandelblit to give his opinion on the disputed issues by Tuesday, including the implications for Netanyahu of the bribery indictment pending against him.
However, Mandelblit on Monday said since the issue at hand is coalition politics and not a government position, he must be a neutral arbiter on behalf of the public interest.
As such, it would be improper to place himself in the position of the defender of the coalition deal and of Netanyahu serving as prime minister, he said.
Rather, the Likud and Blue and White should defend against the petitions, and only after they have filed their defense, he should file his apolitical view of the issues in dispute, he added.
Both Mandelblit and the High Court already have rejected several petitions seeking to fire Netanyahu on a variety of grounds dating back to the indictment being issued on November 21, 2019.
This is despite the fact that Mandelblit is the one who issued the indictment against Netanyahu.
Some of the several of the groups petitioning on behalf of good government are slightly more hopeful of winning over the court this time because this is the last opportunity for the High Court to weigh in.
Until now, the High Court had rejected most petitions as premature, based on the idea that it was unknown whether Netanyahu would be tasked to form the next government.
With the deal between Netanyahu and Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz, that issue is no longer theoretical.
However, during one of the petitions, Mandelblit and the High Court did delve into aspects of the merits and gave strong hints that they would voice disapproval of Netanyahu for failing to step down voluntarily, while throwing up their hands that current Knesset law does not require forcing him out prior to conviction and exhausting all appeals.
Even if Netanyahu is convicted in his trial, due to start on May 24, the process could easily take from one to three years, depending on how quickly the Jerusalem District Court adjudicates the case.