Yuli Edelstein
Yuli EdelsteinFlash 90

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein explained why he chose to resign yesterday instead of complying with the Supreme Court order compelling him to convene the Knesset and elect a Knesset Speaker.

In an Israel Hayom interview, Edelstein said, "There's no doubt that my move is a precedent, but everything that happens is a precedent. The Supreme Court has long taken control of the executive branch, which is clear. Now there is also an attempt to take control of the Legislature and its procedure. These are things that have never been seen before."

He said, "For the 24 years I've been in the political system, including seven years as Knesset Speaker, I've refused any Supreme Court involvement in political decisions, and so I did this time. It's true that this is the first time anyone's said 'No' to them, but I did this as the Speaker of the Knesset, and as the one who maintains the status and independence of the Knesset, not as a private person. What I've done doesn't mean that now every citizen may say 'No' to a judicial decision.

"This isn't a traffic offense," he added. "I acted here as the responsible adult, according to Menachem Begin's legacy that 'there will be no civil war.' I didn't take it to the end but resigned. I can't be forced to do things that I think are dangerous to democracy and contrary to the dictates of my conscience. I hope the Supreme Court will still grant me this right to resign for reasons of conscience."

Edelstein later replied to accusations that his conduct violated the principle of majority rule, "The Knesset has rules of procedure, there's a constitution and there are by-laws. Do you know how many times I've stopped most of the last governments, my own party, when they wanted to steamroll the minority?! I followed the rules and the judges didn't present any legal argument that contradicted this. They were disrespectful towards the Knesset and towards the institution of the Knesset Speaker. They didn't read the opinion of the lawyers who represented me while about 25 minutes after it was submitted they already handed a pre-prepared decision.

"I think the judges should ask themselves how it happened that a man like me, who doesn't need to be taught what democracy is, who's never come out against the Supreme Court and has for years honored the Court, finds himself pushed to the wall until he has to do such an act," he argued.