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31 Dec, 2019 18:11

Israeli court dismisses attempts to block Netanyahu’s reelection campaign over charges

Israeli court dismisses attempts to block Netanyahu’s reelection campaign over charges

Three Israeli High Court judges have rejected a petition attempting to bar PM Benjamin Netanyahu from seeking reelection due to the indictments hanging over him, arguing that the matter only becomes an issue if he wins.

There are no legal reasons Netanyahu cannot run for reelection, Supreme Court President Esther Hayut declared in Tuesday’s court session, dismissing the petition filed in response to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s decision to indict the embattled PM last month. The panel agreed that it would be irrelevant and quite unprecedented to discuss the matter before the March 2 election results were in.

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Even Mandelblit, in a brief submitted last week, maintained the issue would remain hypothetical until the votes had been counted.

There is an attempt to drag the legal system into the political system, it’s a minefield, which one enters only when they have no choice,” said Aner Helman, Mendelblit’s representative in the court, Haaretz reported.

Mendelblit has thus far been reticent on whether Netanyahu, who handily won a vote last week to remain chief of the Likud Party, should be allowed to form a new government after next year’s general election, preferring to wait to hear the High Court’s decision before opining.

Netanyahu himself argued that the matter was outside the court’s jurisdiction entirely, and would remain so even if he won reelection in March – an unprecedented third contest in a year after the previous two left both Netanyahu and his rival Benny Gantz unable to form a government.

There are those who are trying to drag the Supreme Court into the political turmoil to legally deny and thwart my candidacy for prime minister. I do not think that the Supreme Court of Israel will fall into this trap,” the PM tweeted ahead of the hearing.

In a democracy, who decides who will lead the people is only the people and not anyone else.

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A group of 67 academics, former defense officials, and other public figures filed the petition, asking the court to officially bar any Knesset member under indictment for a crime of “moral turpitude” from being given the mandate to form a government, no matter how many supporters he has in the parliament.

Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving PM, is charged with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in three cases. The leader has maintained his innocence, slamming the three-year investigation that led to the charges as cooked up by “foreign interests” trying to “carry out a legal revolution.”

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