Pre­mier’s party, Supreme Court at risk of clash

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - WORLD - By Aron Heller Aron Heller is an As­so­ci­ated Press writer.

JERUSALEM — Is­rael ap­peared on the verge of a con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis Tuesday as top mem­bers of Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu’s Likud urged their party col­leagues and par­lia­ment speaker to defy a Supreme Court or­der to let law­mak­ers hold a vote for his suc­ces­sor.

Af­ter sus­pend­ing par­lia­men­tary activities last week, cit­ing pro­ce­dural is­sues and re­stric­tions on large gath­er­ings due to the spread of the coro­n­avirus, Yuli Edel­stein on Mon­day dis­missed the court’s call to ex­plain his de­lay in con­ven­ing the Is­raeli Knes­set, or par­lia­ment.

It sparked an un­prece­dented ju­di­cial re­but­tal, with Supreme Court Chief Jus­tice Es­ther Hayut or­der­ing him to hold a vote by Wed­nes­day and rul­ing that “the con­tin­ued re­fusal to al­low the vote in the Knes­set plenum on the elec­tion of a per­ma­nent speaker is un­der­min­ing the foun­da­tions of the demo­cratic process.”

Even af­ter that, at least two Likud Cabi­net min­is­ters, in­clud­ing Ne­tanyahu’s sur­ro­gate in­terim jus­tice min­is­ter, called on Edel­stein to defy the or­der, deem­ing it a ju­di­cial “coup” against Is­rael’s elected of­fi­cials. Cabi­net Min­is­ter Yariv Levin led the charge, ac­cus­ing the court of tram­pling the prin­ci­ple of sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers. He said it was cre­at­ing “an­ar­chy” and act­ing as if it “owned the coun­try.”

Edel­stein did not re­lease any com­ment Tuesday on how he would pro­ceed.

Ne­tanyahu has yet to com­ment but oth­ers in the party, while equally lam­bast­ing the high court, called on Edel­stein to re­spect its rul­ing to avoid a full­fledged con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis at such a sen­si­tive time.

The de­vel­op­ments marked the apex of an ever­deep­en­ing stand­off be­tween Ne­tanyahu’s op­po­nents and sup­port­ers in the wake of the coun­try’s third in­con­clu­sive elec­tion in less than a year and against the back­drop of a series of emer­gency ex­ec­u­tive mea­sures en­acted to quell the spread of the new virus.

The op­po­si­tion Blue and White party, backed by a slim ma­jor­ity in the newly elected

Knes­set, said the coun­try’s leg­is­la­ture must con­tinue to func­tion at such a crit­i­cal time to pro­vide over­sight of the govern­ment. The party ac­cuses Ne­tanyahu and his care­taker govern­ment of car­ry­ing out un­demo­cratic mea­sures amid the cri­sis, and us­ing it as cover to cling to power.

“We can­not al­low Is­raeli democ­racy to be tram­pled upon. Not on my watch,” Blue and White leader Benny Gantz posted on Facebook.

With the coun­try in nearshut­down mode, Ne­tanyahu has al­ready man­aged to post­pone his own pend­ing crim­i­nal trial on se­ri­ous cor­rup­tion charges and au­tho­rize un­prece­dented elec­tronic sur­veil­lance of Is­raeli cit­i­zens.

Even amid the health scare, Is­raelis have taken to the streets to protest what they con­sider an as­sault on Is­raeli democ­racy.

Em­manuel Du­nand / AFP / Getty Images

Sup­port­ers of Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Be­na­jamin Ne­tanyahu and the Likud party protest out­side par­lia­ment in Jerusalem. Likud mem­bers are urg­ing de­fi­ance of some Supreme Court or­ders.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.