Key leader abruptly re­signs

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - WORLD - By David M. Halbfinger David M. Halbfinger is a New York Times writer.

JERUSALEM — The speaker of Is­rael’s par­lia­ment, Yuli Edel­stein, a staunch ally of Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu, abruptly re­signed Wed­nes­day rather than comply with a Supreme Court or­der to al­low law­mak­ers to choose his suc­ces­sor.

The move will al­low Benny Gantz’s op­po­si­tion Blue and White party and other op­po­nents of Ne­tanyahu to take con­trol of the leg­isla­tive process. They have threat­ened to en­act laws that could bar Ne­tanyahu from a new term in office.

In a part­ing gift to the em­bat­tled prime min­is­ter, Edel­stein said his res­ig­na­tion as the Knes­set speaker would be­come ef­fec­tive only on Fri­day, en­sur­ing that anti­Ne­tanyahu law­mak­ers would have to wait un­til the com­ing week to as­sert their new­found power.

The machi­na­tions, which came as hun­dreds of protesters with black flags demon­strated and shut down traf­fic out­side par­lia­ment, did not end there. Blue and White moved to set aside the de­lay and choose a new speaker im­me­di­ately, say­ing that Edel­stein’s re­fusal to al­low a vote on a new speaker meant that his fi­nal act in office amounted to con­tempt of court.

The res­ig­na­tion of Edel­stein, 61, who had led par­lia­ment since 2013, ap­peared to avert a con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis that had been brew­ing for weeks, but it left Is­rael still no closer to re­solv­ing its long po­lit­i­cal dead­lock.

Op­po­nents of Ne­tanyahu won a slim ma­jor­ity in par­lia­men­tary elec­tions March 2 — the coun­try’s third in­con­clu­sive bal­lot in the past year.

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