Israeli Supreme Court threatens Edelstein with contempt as he spurns demand to hold vote

“I will not uphold the Supreme Court ruling to convene the plenum,” Edelstein said.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Knesset legal adviser Eyal Yanon told Israel’s Supreme Court on Wednesday that he informed outgoing Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein that he must hold a vote on his replacement in obedience to the court’s ruling on Tuesday.

Edelstein told the Knesset Legal Adviser: “I will not uphold the Supreme Court ruling to convene the plenum.” A plenum is required to vote on a new speaker.

“According to the Knesset’s rules, the resignation of the Speaker of the Knesset takes effect after 48 hours,” Yanon said he told the Speaker. Therefore, Edelstein must “comply with the Honorable Court’s order,” to hold the vote by 5:00 p.m. Wednesday.

Blue and White, the main opposition party, ran to the Supreme Court to appeal Edelstein’s decision. The Supreme Court gave Edelstein until 2:30 p.m. to respond to contempt charges.

However, it’s not clear what action the court can take against Edelstein. Amir Fuchs of the Israel Democracy Institute told Ynet that the court can fine him but little else.

“The High Court can send judges to open the plenum, and I hope they won’t behave in such an extremely irresponsible and un-statesmanlike manner,” Edelstein told allies, Israel’s Channel 13 reports.

Edelstein, a member of the Likud and No. 2 on the party list, refused to hold a vote for his replacement last week. Blue and White appealed to the Supreme Court, which ruled that he must do so by Wednesday afternoon. Edelstein resigned rather than do so, delaying the vote for a week.

The role of Knesset Speaker is critical to setting the parliamentary agenda. Blue and White wants their candidate, MK Moshe Cohen, to take the position in order to ensure their legislation is moved forward.

Blue and White submitted three bills targeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the day the 23rd Knesset was sworn in on March 17. The Israel Beiteinu party submitted a fourth bill also targeting the prime minister. The bills would prevent Netanyahu from serving by making it illegal to do so under indictment.

On Tuesday, Israel Beiteinu submitted a fifth bill to the same effect.