Likud draws red lines on coalition deal – crossing them means 4th elections

If the High Court says Netanyahu can’t be prime minister, or rules against two other clauses of the unity agreement, fourth elections will ensue.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Likud has certain red lines that, if crossed, will mean the collapse of its deal with the Blue and White party and a fourth round of elections, Israel Hayom reported Wednesday.

After softening some of its positions to gain the favor of the High Court of Justice, which is now deliberating after two days of hearings on petitions against the formation of a joint government, a Likud source enumerated three principles that the Likud will not bend on.

The most important red line is that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must be allowed to continue in his post. For the sake of unity, the party has already made the painful concession that Netanyahu will rotate his position with Blue and White head Benny Gantz in 18 months.

If the court rules that due to his upcoming trial on corruption charges he cannot serve as prime minister at all, the deal is dead, said the official.

The principle behind the rotation is also sacrosanct, he told the Hebrew daily. The unity deal calls for legislating a new position, that of “alternate prime minister,” that Gantz will fill first and then Netanyahu when the turnover takes place. If the court says such a move is illegal, Netanyahu would become just an ordinary MK after he steps down, and this is not acceptable, he says.

The third potential deal-breaker revolves around the ability of the right-wing to influence the makeup of the courts through the Knesset’s nine-member Judicial Selection Committee.

Three of the members are current Supreme Court justices, two are Bar Association representatives, two are government officials (one of whom is the justice minister), and two are MKs.

Since 1992, the custom has been that one of the MKs come from the opposition, but the Likud is demanding that both should be from the right-wing bloc. In addition, as Blue and White will be holding the Justice Ministry portfolio, the unity deal stipulates that the other government representative will be from the Right as well.

Only a simple majority of those present is needed for appointing regular judges. A Supreme Court nominee needs the support of at least seven of the nine committee members. The official said that the Likud must have the ability to veto an undesirable justice by having three on the committee on its side of the political map.

Authors of the unity deal made some concessions on issues that concerned the court during the two-day hearing. They put in writing that the emergency corona period would be six months instead of leaving it “liquid,” as the justices had complained.

Legislation not connected to the health crisis could go ahead during this time (the agreement originally called for a freeze on non-health related laws), and the freeze on senior-level appointments would only last for 100 days rather than the original six months.