Knesset will swear in unity government on May 13, but Supreme Court still menaces

Netanyahu and Gantz, who will share the premiership on a rotational basis, extended the government’s term to 4 1/2 years.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

The Knesset will swear in a new unity government on Wednesday, May 13, a day before the window to form a government expires – an event, should it occur, that would automatically send the country to fourth elections.

The coalition deal was set to be approved in the Knesset on Wednesday but was delayed by the opposition, which forced the plenum to vote down 1,000 amendments to the coalition legislation. On Thursday morning, parties to the deal succeeded in beating back the revisions.

In order to form a unity government, Likud and Blue and White were forced to introduce various changes to certain laws, including what are known as Basic Laws, which have greater force than regular laws and are considered quasi-constitutional in nature.

In a last minute change, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, who will share the premiership on a rotational basis, extended the government’s term to 4 1/2 years.

Each will now serve an additional six months in the role of prime minister. Currently, the setup is that Netanyahu will serve for 1 1/2 years, then Gantz, after which Netanyahu will serve an additional six months and Gantz six months.

A significant hurdle was overcome when the Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday night that it wouldn’t interfere in the coalition agreement.

However, it did leave the possibility open that it could step in later, saying that it saw no need to interfere “at this time.”

Netanyahu has reportedly expressed his anger at the court’s interference in conversation with members of his right-wing bloc but has refused to take the court on publicly. However, he has openly warned that if the court struck down any part of the deal, it would very likely mean fourth elections.

Some have publicly criticized the court for weighing in at all. Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich, warning that the right-wing should not be celebrating, tweeted on Thursday that the court is quietly laying “the foundation for disallowing Basic Laws.”

Mati Tuchfeld, an Israel Hayom columnist on political affairs, more or less agreed with this assessment, writing on Thursday that the Supreme Court’s decision was “first and foremost a big win for the judges.”

“A cursory reading of the court ruling reveals that the High Court judges left themselves the right to continue to interfere in legislative matters in different initiatives connected to the coalition agreement going forward,” he wrote.