Netanyahu relents, agrees to appoint Gantz Justice Minister

After attempting to force through Likud MK as new Justice Minister, Netanyahu accedes to Blue and White, agrees to appoint Benny Gantz.

David Rosenberg ,

Gantz and Netanyahu
Gantz and Netanyahu
צילום: Oren Ben Hakoon.POOL, פלאש 90

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to appoint Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Blue and White) as Justice Minister, after the Supreme Court ruled against the government’s appointment of a Likud lawmaker as Justice Minister.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu dropped his opposition to appointed Gantz as Justice Minister, agreeing to bring the appointment up to a government vote later today.

The move comes after the Supreme Court ruled that the vote Tuesday to appoint Ofir Akunis (Likud) in Gantz’s place was illegal.

The Court intervened after Netanyahu barred Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit from expressing his legal opinion on the validity of voting for Akunis despite Blue and White’s opposition.

The government had no authority, Mandelblit argued, to appoint Akunis as Justice Minister over Blue and White’s opposition, given that Blue and White had been guaranteed the Justice Ministry portfolio in the coalition agreement, with coalition agreements carrying the weight of law.

Despite his reversal Wednesday, Netanyahu maintained that the Supreme Court had no grounds for intervening in the government vote to appoint Akunis.

Through his attorney, Netanyahu argued in a brief submitted to the Court Wednesday that the decision to nullify Tuesday’s vote retroactively “just because the Attorney General’s opinion wasn’t given a proper hearing is a far-reaching decision with no basis in law.”

The Justice Ministry was guaranteed to Blue and White under the coalition deal reached to form the Thirty-Fifth government, with the portfolio being held by Avi Nissenkorn until his resignation on January 1st.

Benny Gantz was tapped to serve as acting minister to replace Nissenkorn for three months.

Despite Gantz’s request to be formally appointed as Justice Minister, his term as acting minister expired on April 1st, with Netanyahu refusing to hold a vote on a new appointment.

Following a court order requiring a vote on a new appointment to fill the vacancy, Netanyahu and his allies on Tuesday voted down Gantz’s candidacy, and instead voted to appoint Akunis – a move the Attorney General and Supreme Court ruled to be illegal, with the court retroactively nullifying the appointment.