Supreme Court rejects petition to bar Netanyahu from forming government

In victory of Netanyahu, Israeli Supreme Court throws out petition which sought to block PM from forming a new government under indictment.

Hezki Baruch,

Binyamin Netanyahu
Binyamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu won an important legal victory Thursday, when the Israeli Supreme Court announced that it had rejected a petition to bar Netanyahu from being given the opportunity to form a new government after the March 2nd general election.

The Supreme Court announced Thursday that it had dismissed the petition, which had argued that Netanyahu should be barred from forming a new government while under criminal indictment.

In its decision to reject the petition, the Court did, however, claim that the question of whether a candidate under indictment can be tasked with forming a government is justiciable – despite the claims made by Netanyahu and the Likud that the Court has no authority on the matter.

The Court went on to say that given the sensitive political situation ahead of the election, it would not be appropriate to rule at this time.

Netanyahu, the Court continued, is permitted to run in the election, given that there is no law barring a person under indictment from doing so. The Court also noted that even if the Likud is in a position to form the next government, a candidate other than Netanyahu could be tasked with forming a coalition.

The petition which the Court rejected had been filed by attorney Dafna Holtz-Lechner, with the endorsement of 67 former government officials, academics, and other prominent figures, including former Israeli Air Force chief Aviyahu Ben-Nun, former National Security Advisor Uzi Arad, former Shin Bet internal security agency chief Carmi Gillon, former Ben Gurion University president Rivka Carmi, businessman Dov Moran, and playwright Yehoshua Sobol, among others.

On Tuesday, the Court held a preliminary hearing in the matter, during which chief justice Esther Hayut questioned the need for the petition prior to the March 2nd Knesset election.

"There is no provision in the law which would bar Netanyahu from running," said Hayut. "The elections are going to be held. Afterwards, the President will need to exercise his authority. There will be a juncture at which the President will need to decide - why rule on this now and not at the next juncture?"

Netanyahu, who currently serves as prime minister at the helm of a caretaker government ahead of the March 2nd Knesset election, faces charges in three separate corruption investigations, including fraud and breach of trust charges in the Case 1000 and 2000 investigations which relate to gives Netanyahu received gifts from businessmen; and bribery, fraud, and breach of trust charges in Case 4000, which centers on allegations Netanyahu used his position to speed up regulatory changes beneficial to an Israeli businessman in exchange for better news coverage in an outlet the businessman owns.