The Likud and Blue and White parties announced several changes May 5 to the unity-government agreement they signed last month.
The two parties told the High Court they had agreed to cut the time period of a freeze on appointing key officials from six months to 100 days. Also, the revised agreement would give preference to bills related to the coronavirus, but not prevent other legislation from being presented to the Knesset. A third change was for Blue and White to forgo its demand that its (future) ministers who quit the Knesset be replaced only by Blue and White candidates in the last election. Blue and White wanted to avoid a situation where empty Knesset spots would automatically be filled by the next candidate in line, according to the candidate lists presented on election day. Blue and White leader Benny Gantz’s former allies — the Yesh Atid and Telem factions — quit Blue and White when Gantz partnered with Netanyahu. They are now in the opposition, but according to parliamentary regulations could benefit from vacated seats.
Likud and Blue and White were compelled to make these three changes after High Court justices expressed reservations over the legality of those clauses. The justices said, for example, that ruling out key appointments for six months contradicts administrative law and regulations and is against the principle of independence of the law-enforcement system. The revision now introduced should enable the long-awaited appointments of police commissioner, state prosecutor and a number of additional senior positions. The justices accorded the two parties 24 hours to rectify the agreement; hence the announcement made May 5 by Likud and Blue and White.
The High Court deliberated May 3 and 4 on petitions saying indicted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should not be able to assemble and lead a government and questioning the legality of the unity agreement. With the hearing phase now finished, the High Court is expected to publish its final ruling by the evening of May 7, just before the deadline for Netanyahu to present to the Knesset his new government and receive the backing of the majority. Netanyahu warned the court May 4 that intervening in the composition of the new government could lead to fourth elections.
In parallel, the two parties are engaged in a marathon session of deliberations on the bills necessary for the formation of the new government, including amendments to two of Israel’s quasi-constitutional Basic Laws. Opposition parties submitted 1,000 reservations to the bills introduced by the new coalition in an attempt to filibuster and make Likud and Blue and White miss their May 7 deadline.