High Court blocks petition to disqualify Netanyahu from forming gov’t

The move is seen as a victory for Netanyahu, with the highest court in the land refusing to bar the prime minister from receiving the mandate to form a government.

By Benjamin Brown, TPS

Benjamin Netanyahu has been dealt a potential win by Israel’s High Court in the run-up to the March 2 elections. Specifically, the court rejected a petition that sought clarification as to whether the Prime Minister would be able to be given the mandate to form a government, should he be successful in the coming elections.

The petition had challenged the High Court to decide whether Netanyahu would be allowed to receive the mandate, handed out by the president to the candidate deemed most likely to be successful in forming a government. The question was posed due to the indictments against Netanyahu over several cases of corruption.

The High Court declared it would not rule on the issue before the election, stating that “at this time the petition is theoretical and premature.”

The court will most likely make a final decision should Netanyahu receive the mandate to form a government from President Rivlin.

On Tuesday, the court had convened for a preliminary hearing on whether a politician facing criminal indictment can be the recipient of the mandate. It had then declared that it would decide on the matter “at a later point.”

The hearing had been brought on by a petition signed by 67 public figures, academics and business leaders, which was submitted by attorney Dafna Holtz-Lachner.

The prime minister on Wednesday evening announced that he plans to request parliamentary immunity from the Knesset regarding the criminal charges he faces.

Netanyahu emphasized that the immunity is temporary and expires at the end of the current Knesset’s term, in March.

While Netanyahu is unlikely to receive immunity in the current Knesset configuration, his request may postpone legal proceedings significantly.

A Knesset House Committee must consider his immunity request. However, since Knesset committees are only appointed after a government is formed, no committee can currently consider the request.

Members of the opposition are pushing to have a special committee formed to discuss the issue.