High Court cancels hearing as PM agrees to Gantz as justice minister

In a dramatic u-turn, Netanyahu releases statement saying he supports Blue & White leader for the position and wants to avoid deadlock; adds he will table cabinet session on Sunday to fill rest of ministerial vacancies

Hours before the High Court of Justice was due to decide on the legality of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's attempts to install a justice minister from his own party, the premier announced Wednesday afternoon he supports the appointment of Blue & White leader Benny Gantz for the position.
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  • The court later said that the hearing scheduled for Wednesday afternoon had been cancelled.
    The appointment of the minister was at the center of a row between Gantz and Netanyahu over the authority of the two in the current coalition government. Critics accused Netanyahu of seeking to control the ministry in order to impact his current corruption trial.
    3 View gallery
    בנימין נתניהו, בני גנץ
    בנימין נתניהו, בני גנץ
    Blue & White leader Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
    (Photo: Hadar Yoavian)
    "The prime minister has submitted a detailed response to the High Court that completely rejects the argument that yesterday's vote in the cabinet was against the law," the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.
    "However, after the prime minister's proposals for a compromise were also rejected, and in order to get out of the deadlock and allow the necessary activities of the Justice Ministry to resume, the prime minister decided to appoint Benny Gantz as justice minister of the transitional government."
    Netanyahu later tabled the appointment for government's approval, making the decision official.
    3 View gallery
    בנימין נתניהו ואביחי מנדלבליט
    בנימין נתניהו ואביחי מנדלבליט
    Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and Benjamin Netanyahu
    (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky, Emil Selman)
    In addition, Netanyahu told the High Court he will schedule a cabinet session on Sunday to fill the rest of ministerial vacancies, which include science, social equality, communications, water and higher education.
    On Tuesday, Likud minister Ofir Akunis’ appointment as justice minister - after a contentious cabinet vote on his nomination - was disqualified by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit in a heated session.
    As a result, the High Court ruled it will hold an urgent hearing on Wednesday to determine whether the appointment was lawful and how to proceed on the issue further.
    The Movement for Quality Government, which was among the groups to bring the petition for justice minister appointment to court, welcomed Netanyahu's decision to appoint Gantz for the post, which he held on an interim basis until April of this year.
    3 View gallery
    הרכב השופטים בדיון בבג"ץ
    הרכב השופטים בדיון בבג"ץ
    Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Esther Hayut
    (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
    "Netanyahu understood that he had made a serious and illegal mistake when he abruptly brought up Akunis as a candidate for justice minister, despite the disagreement in the cabinet," said the statement. "It is a shame that Netanyahu is acting right only when his back is against the wall and he has no choice but to fold. This is how a circus is run and not a government."
    Netanyahu's U-turn came amid reports that his conduct during the tumultuous cabinet meeting further united Yamina leader Naftali Bennett and New Hope chief Gideon Saar.
    In addition, a few moments before Netanyahu announced his decision to back Gantz for the position, he apparently was made aware that Bennett held his first meeting with Mansour Abbas - the leader of the Islamist Ra'am party - in an effort to form a unity government.

    First published: 12:58, 04.28.21
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