The Israeli Supreme Court on Wednesday evening gave its blessing to a government of union between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ex-rival Benny Gantz, who are to be sworn in on 13 May, the end of the longest political crisis in the modern history of the Hebrew State.
Will Israel finally see the light at the end of a political crisis that has been stretching in twists and turns since December 2018, with in the wake three early elections n having failed so far to lead to a government?
The answer now seems affirmative after the announcement of the Supreme Court which, after having been seized by part of the opposition and NGOs, was to rule on the legality of the government agreement, and in particular on the possibility for Benjamin Netanyahu to run the country despite an accusation of corruption against him.
However, the highest court in the country announced late in the evening its rejection, “unanimously” of the 11 judges, all the complaints against the agreement which was however the subject of debate during the night of Wednesday to Thursday in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament.
“We have found no legal reason preventing the formation of a government by Prime Minister Netanyahu […] but this conclusion which we have reached does not in any way diminish the gravity of the charges against Prime Minister Netanyahu “, Indicated the judges.
This “union and emergency” government plans to keep Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister for 18 months, followed by Benny Gantz for an equivalent period, as well as a program for the annexation of sections of the West Bank occupied by Israel.
The agreement surprised part of the political class and was lambasted by local NGOs who challenged it up to the Supreme Court.
For them, Mr. Netanyahu cannot lead the next government because of his troubles with the justice system, and the provisions of the agreement violate fundamental laws, the equivalent of the Constitution in Israel.
During the hearings Sunday and Monday, broadcast live on local channels, the judges with the face camouflaged by sanitary masks suggested a series of changes to the agreement.
Immediately, the Netanyahu and Gantz camps returned to the table to modify here a comma, there a clause, elsewhere a provision.
The Knesset, the Israeli parliament, said that around 1000 requests for changes had been made. And on the night of Wednesday through Thursday, MPs were still voting and debating aspects of the deal.
But the approval of the agreement by the parliamentarians should not pose undue problems because the Likud (right) of Benjamin Netanyahu and the centrist “Bleu-Blanc” formation of Benny Gantz have their respective allies a majority of seats in Parliament.
The two leaders did not wait for the white smoke from the Knesset to announce the swearing in of the next government on 13 next May and thus put an end to more than 16 months of a political saga embroidered with twists and turns.
After these months of crisis, Benny Gantz had agreed to form a coalition with his rival, despite his indictment, in order to allow Israel to weather the coronavirus pandemic which has now infected approximately 16 000 people, whose 235 died, and jumped unemployment from 3.4% to 27%.
But over the past ten days, Benjamin Netanyahu has multiplied announcements of deconfinement, which makes the opposition say that the need for this agreement is no longer relevant.
“A single mother with two children, who lives in a rented apartment and has lost her job, will end up on the street next month,” said Yair Lapid, a former ally of Benny Gantz who is hostile to the agreement. . “This is what we should be attacking, not which politician gets what job “.
The pandemic forced the postponement until the end of May of the trial of Benjamin Netanyahu for corruption, breach of trust and embezzlement in a series of cases. If the latter retains his title of prime minister, he will nevertheless become the first head of government in the history of Israel to appear in his corruption trial.