Speaker of the Knesset resigns: ‘Supreme court is destroying parliament’

Edelstein resigned rather than carry out the order of Israel’s Supreme Court to hold a vote for a new speaker. 

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein resigned from office on Wednesday in protest of a Supreme Court ruling that he hold a vote on his replacement. His resignation will go into effect in 48 hours, delaying the vote for a new speaker until next week.

Edelstein said in his resignation letter that the Supreme Court’s ruling that demanded he permit a vote on a new speaker “is not based on the letter of the law but on a one-sided and extreme interpretation. It is a grave and flawed decision… It undermines the foundations of democracy.

“As one who paid a personal price of years in prison [in Russia] for the right to live as a citizen in Israel, as a Zionist and as the speaker of this House I will not let Israel come to anarchy. I will not give my support to a civil war.

“Thus for the good of the State of Israel and to renew the spirit of statesmanship in Israel I am resigning from my position as Knesset speaker. We will pray and work for better days,” his statement said.

He also said, “The High Court decision contradicts the Knesset’s bylaws and destroys the work of the Knesset.”

According to Knesset bylaws, the incumbent speaker isn’t obligated to bring a vote for a new speaker before parliament until just before a government is established.

It’s not clear yet into whose hands Edelstein’s resignation will play. His move freezes a vote for a week and the Likud is eager to run out the clock on Blue and White leader Benny Gantz’s time (28 days) to form a government. Blue and White is reportedly looking at Knesset laws to see if it can appoint a temporary speaker.

Blue and White wants one of their own as Knesset Speaker as the position decides parliament’s schedule and will make it possible to push through legislation barring Netanyahu from serving as prime minister.

The Likud and its right-wing allies have argued that the proposed legislation, amounting to five bills directed against Netanyahu, as “personal” and “anti-democratic.”

When Edelstein resisted the attempt to oust him, Blue and White appealed to the Supreme Court, which ruled in its favor.

Israel’s Right argued that the Supreme Court overstepped its bounds when it ruled on the appeal earlier this week.

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin of the Likud said on Tuesday that the High Court “is acting as if it owns the country” and is undermining the separation of powers.

Yemina party member and former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said on Tuesday of the court’s ruling: “Democracy in Israel isn’t ‘dead.’ Some people are trying to kill it, and it’s not the Knesset chairman, but those who go to the High Court of Justice as a kind of kindergarten teacher over the Knesset. They’re the ones killing democracy.”