Esther Hayut and Hanan Meltzer
Esther Hayut and Hanan MeltzerMarc Israel Sellem. POOL

The Supreme Court ruled tonight (Thursday) that the government and Knesset must explain within 21 days why the amendment to the Basic Law: The Government, which allows for the position of alternate prime minister, should not be repealed.

The ruling was given in petitions filed by the Movement for the Quality of Government, Meretz and a number of associations.

The panel of judges, Supreme Court President Esther Hayyut, Vice President Hanan Meltzer and Judge Neil Handel, ruled that the next hearings on the issue will be held by an expanded panel featuring nine judges.

The Movement for Quality of Government, the main petitioner, welcomed the orders and expansion of the Supreme Court.

"A [Prime Minister] facing three indictments and trying to escape the rule of law cannot enact a regime change. The Supreme Court must defend the democratic structure of the State and prevent lethal damage to the basis of the system," it said in a statement.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid said in response to the decision: "The Supreme Court has asked the state why the position of deputy prime minister is required. Let me save you 21 days of waiting and answer that one for you: There is none."