JERUSALEM – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can form a government despite the corruption charges against him, the country’s highest court ruled, a controversial decision that paves the way to ending more than a year of political stalemate closely linked to his legal woes.
Critics have said Netanyahu’s leadership of the nation while under indictment would compromise the ethical norms on which public service should rest.
The unanimous court ruling on Wednesday (May 6) cleared a major obstacle to installing Israel’s first permanent government since December 2018, even as the start of Netanyahu’s criminal trial looms in late May.
Israeli media reported that Netanyahu and rival Benny Gantz set a May 13 date for swearing in the coalition after parliament passed legislation pertaining to their power-sharing agreement earlier in the day.
Following two days of deliberations earlier this week, an expanded panel of 11 judges on the High Court of Justice rejected petitions seeking to block the premier from keeping his job.
“The indictment against a lawmaker does not prevent his being named to form a government, and by extension his appointment to lead it,” they said in their decision.
The high court was asked to weigh in on Netanyahu’s fitness to serve because Israeli law does not explicitly address whether a politician indicted on serious crimes can serve as prime minister.
Netanyahu has been charged in three influence-peddling cases.