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Israeli government to be sworn in next Wednesday

What happened: This morning the Knesset approved the prime ministerial rotation law, underpinning the coalition agreement between the Likud and Blue and White, paving the way for the alternating government to be sworn in next week.

  • The bill was approved by a majority of 72 to 36. The right-wing Yamina party, which has not yet signed up to the coalition agreement, did not show up for the vote, and neither did Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman.
  • The Knesset will continue voting today and are expected to approve the other aspects of the coalition agreement.
  • Last night the Supreme Court ruled that interim Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can form a government under indictment and rejected the petitions disqualifying the coalition agreement between Likud and Blue and White.
  • The court’s verdict said: “An indictment pending against an MK does not preclude assigning him the task of forming a government and, deriving from that, his appointment as the prime minister. The decision to ask the president to assign the task of forming the government on a Member of Knesset is a decision that involves the use of broad political judgment. It is designed to translate the voters’ wishes into support for one of the Members of Knesset to serve as prime minister. That is at the heart of the democratic process. External intervention in that process constitutes a substantive blow to the principle of majority rule, which is at the foundation of our system of government.”
  • Chief Justice Esther Hayut called the coalition agreement “highly unusual” and said some of its elements “raise serious difficulties,” but argued there currently were no grounds to justify the court’s intervention in any of the sections, partially thanks to the revisions that were made and the clarifications that were provided by the Blue and White and the Likud after the two-day hearing.
  • The unanimous decision by all 11 justices said there was no reason to intervene “at this time,” leaving the door open to future challenges to the legislation underpinning the coalition agreement once it is approved by the Knesset.
  • Shortly before the ruling, Likud and Blue and White announced that the new government would be sworn in next Wednesday, 13 May.

Context: Now that the legislation is passed, the Likud and Blue and White have until midnight tonight to gather 61 signatures and recommend Netanyahu to President Reuven Rivlin to form the next government.

  • Blue and White said they will only give Netanyahu the required 61 signatures to hold the mandate if all the legislation for the coalition agreement is approved by the Knesset before midnight.
  • With a presidential mandate, Netanyahu would have two weeks to finalise his coalition with Benny Gantz. Netanyahu is looking to control the Arrangements Committee, meaning that he could remove the threat of ‘anti-Netanyahu’ bills Gantz would likely try to pass were Netanyahu to back out of the coalition agreement and try to form a narrow right-wing government or head for fourth elections.
  • Likud and Blue and White on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court they would adjust some of the provisions of the coalition agreement that caused judicial concern. One alteration was extending the term of the next government from three to four years, in which Netanyahu and Gantz would serve for another six months each after their original 18 months swap over.

Looking ahead: With the Knesset approving the law for the coalition agreement, the opposition will now be able to raise new concerns to the Supreme Court.

  • Yesterday’s verdict showed that the justices reserved the right to continue to intervene in legislative proceedings and in facets of the coalition agreement in the future.