Netanyahu ally resigns as Speaker

Elias Hubbard
March 25, 2020

"No one is above the law", Blue and White leader Benny Gantz tweeted.

Yuli Edelstein had suspended parliamentary activities last week, citing procedural issues and restrictions on large gatherings due to the spread of the coronavirus.

Mr Netanyahu, who faces corruption charges, remains caretaker prime minister and will have his own chance to form a government if Mr Gantz fails to assemble a majority. With the Supreme Court intervening, accusations are being hurled in all directions.

"The Supreme Court decision destroys the work of the Knesset".

Mr Edelstein announced this week he would not allow a vote on a new speaker of the Knesset, saying that such a vote should only take place after a government had been formed in the wake of the election.

"As one who paid a personal price of years in prison [in Russia] for the right to live as a citizen in Israel, as a Zionist and as the speaker of this House I will not let Israel come to anarchy". I will not give my support to a civil war.

"This is a black day for democracy", said Eliad Shraga, the chairman of the non-profit Movement for Quality Government in Israel.

Netanyahu now heads a caretaker government.

Edelstein, a member of Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party, announced he was quitting in a speech to parliament, accusing the court of "gross and arrogant meddling" in legislative affairs by ordering him to schedule a vote for the speaker's position at Wednesday's Knesset session.

There was no guarantee Gantz would fare better this time, fuelling widespread calls for a short-term unity government to respond to the pandemic.

By resigning, Mr Edelstein stepped back from the brink but there is still huge uncertainty over whether Israel will be able to form a government or stumble into a fourth election.

Once parliament votes, it is expected to approve Meir Cohen of Gantz's centrist Blue and White party as Edelstein's replacement.

Despite the divides within the anti-Netanyahu camp, it has been unified in backing legislation that would bar anyone under criminal indictment from serving as prime minister.

Blue and White this week already convened several decision-making committees, including one devoted to the corona crisis, that would handle the anti-Netanyahu legislation.

Mr Gantz's bloc said the move was a nakedly political attempt to prevent the opposition from electing a new speaker. His critics accused him of autocracy after he invoked a series of emergency regulations during the coronavirus crisis.

It's not clear yet into whose hands Edelstein's resignation will play.

The country have been almost entirely shut down, with hundreds of thousands put out of work and all but essential movement from the home barred.

"Israeli democracy must not be trampled in the name of the coronavirus crisis that requires thorough treatment - medically, socially and economically". Netanyahu supporters have held small counter rallies as well.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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