Last week, the Israeli government took the drastic action to close the Knesset building on the grounds of health and safety, as a number of MK’s had contracted the corona virus, a move which could comfortably be considered in line with the restrictions placed on all Israeli’s.
This is all on the backdrop of the inconclusive March 2020 election, and with Bibi Netanyahu heading the interim government. Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party are looking to raise legislation widely considered to be aimed at removing Netanyahu from power, and claimed that the closure of the Knesset was to block this legislation and thus undemocratic.
At the beginning of this week, the Supreme Court ruled that Edelstein, the encumbant Speaker of the Knesset must reopen parliament to allow normal procedure to continue (he had previously rejected calls). In order to not contravene the ruling, Edelstein, a Likud MK, made the shock decision to resign the position with immediate effect (48 hours), citing the “crude and arrogant intervention” of the Supreme Court. This plunged the country into a constitutional crisis, which bore shocking resemblance to the stalemate that the British parliament faced prior to the December 2019 election.
Since then, the High Court of Israel, placed Peretz, the leader of the Labour Party (Ha’avodah), as Speaker, to organise the vote for Edelstein’s replacement, due at 4pm Israel time on Thursday 26th March. The frontrunner was Meir Cohen, an MK for Blue and White
However, in a dramatic turn of events, Benny Gantz put himself forward as Knesset Speaker, a move seen as the forerunner or watershed moment with Gantz reportedly making a deal with Bibi Netanyahu. This caused the break up of the Blue and White Party, with Yair Lapid filing for separation to take his Yesh Atid group out of the Blue and White, along with other factions of Blue and White.
The report regarding the formation of a an emergency unity government is by no means confirmed, but what is confirmed is that Gantz is Knesset Speaker and Blue and White has broken up.
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- Netanyahu allies slam High Court for ordering Thursday vote on new speaker