Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit adjudicated on Wednesday that Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein's resignation does not abdicate him from following a High Court of Justice ruling to convene the Knesset plenum to vote on his replacement until Wednesday.
According to the attorney general, Edelstein's resignation will only come into effect within 48 hours of its submission, hence on Thursday.
"Under these circumstances, Edelstein's announcement of his resignation from the position of speaker does not exempt him from fulfilling the court ruling to include on the Knesset's agenda a vote on the identity of a permanent speaker for the 23rd Knesset, today," Mandelblit wrote to the High Court.
Since Edelstein is the only person who has the authority to convene the Knesset plenum, Knesset Legal Adviser Yinon Eyal said that under these circumstances, the plenum cannot be convened unless given a special ruling by the High Court.
Eyal also concluded that Edelstein's resignation does not exempt him from fulfilling the High Court's ruling.
Edelstein called Labor Chairman Amir Peretz Wednesday afternoon to inform Peretz he will replace him as speaker starting Friday.
Edelstein, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ruling Likud party, found himself under extreme scrutiny after he suspended parliamentary activities, preventing the newly elected legislature from choosing a new speaker and forming the Arrangements Committee, one of the most vital Knesset committees without which the parliament cannot operate.
"The High Court of Justice is burying the Knesset," he said at the start of a special plenum session. "The High Court’s decision is not based on the law, but on a partisan and extreme interpretation. The High Court decision contradicts the Knesset's bylaws,” he added.
“As someone who has paid a heavy personal cost, including years of imprisonment and hard labor, for the right to live in Israel, no explanation is needed as to how much I love the State of Israel and the people of Israel.”
The speaker has adjourned the Knesset until next Monday following his speech, drawing ire of the Blue & White MKs, who said they intend to appeal against the decision to the High Court.
The High Court's ruling came after a hearing on Sunday that was held following a petition from civil rights groups demanding the Knesset resume its full activities even amid restrictions imposed because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The suspension of the Knesset was allegedly done to prevent the Blue & White from advancing a bill that would stop any premier with a criminal indictment from continuing to serve.
Netanyahu is due to go on trial on charges of fraud, bribe, and breach of trust in three corruption cases. The trial's opening hearing was set to start last week was had been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.