Likud: Fourth elections if Supreme Court nixes unity deal

The High Court of Justice will have to make its ruling before the Thursday deadline to form a government.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Likud has threatened to put the country through a fourth round of elections if the High Court of Justice nixes even only parts of the unity coalition agreement following Monday’s hearings of petitions against the deal.

“This coalition agreement is very complex and moving any brick in the agreement can topple the entire structure and decree upon us unnecessary fourth elections in the midst of a health-economic crisis,” wrote Minister Ze’ev Elkin in a Facebook post.

“It is not right that the Supreme Court intervenes in a political agreement between the parties and this has had no precedent,” the party officials said.

Likud officials repeated a warning issued nine days ago, after the court dates to hear the opposition petitions were set. They told Channel 12 News that because the coalition deal was so delicate, if the court decides to strike even a small portion of it, the whole agreement would disintegrate.

The Supreme Court deliberated on the unity deal and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s fitness to serve in the country’s highest office on Monday and Tuesday. They will issue an opinion next Thursday.

Justices have indicated they are especially disturbed by the vagueness of the coalition deal regarding its emergency period, and asked why a specific end date was not mentioned. Attorney Michael Rabello, who is representing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told the court that the emergency period was six months, until the corona crisis was over.

Considering that there could be renewed waves of contagion in the future, however, Justice Anat Baron said, “The concepts are fluid. According to the wording of this agreement, this situation can continue throughout the term of the Knesset,” which would be unacceptable. She urged that the limit to the emergency period be written clearly in the deal.

The justices were also concerned about possible harm to the public good during this undefined time. They specifically mentioned clauses in the deal stating that appointments of public officials cannot be made and legislation unrelated to the corona crisis would need 75 MKs to support it.

According to a Haaretz report Monday, Rabello gave a little during the hearing, saying that the Likud would back off its demand for a super-majority of lawmakers to enact laws unconnected to the health crisis.

One of the major reasons for this clause had been to prevent the possibility of the Knesset opposition succeeding in bringing down the unity government in the coming months.

The danger to the coalition agreement does not only stem from the judicial branch, however. After the first reading of the bill turning vital portions of the deal into law passed in the Knesset, it went back to the Law Committee prior to its second and third readings.

On Sunday, the opposition filed more than 9,000 amendments to the bill in an effort to delay it until the May 7 midnight deadline for forming a government has passed.

By law, a representative of every faction can speak about each amendment before it goes to a vote in the Law Committee.

If the filibuster works and the deadline passes, Blue and White has said that the party will not try to save the deal, and fourth elections will be necessary and take place in August.