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Court hears challenges against Netanyahu


Israel’s top court Sunday started hearing arguments to bar Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from forming a new government as he faces a criminal trial on corruption charges.

The Supreme Court will also hear petitions challenging a coalition deal with his rival-turned-partner Benny Gantz, who is currently speaker of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. 

Either case carries with it the danger of forcing another election, after three polls in less than a year failed to produce a government and left the country in a grinding political deadlock.

“Today we shall hear arguments on the question of bestowing the duty of forming a government on a Knesset member against whom an indictment has been filed,” Chief Justice Esther Hayut said as she opened proceedings.

“Tomorrow there will be a hearing on the second issue, regarding the coalition agreement,” she said, sitting at the head of a panel of 11 judges, all wearing face masks in line with Covid-19 precautions.

The hearing was broadcast live on the court website. 

Neither Netanyahu, the right-wing premier in power since 2009, nor the centrist ex-military chief Gantz, was able after a March election to form a viable governing coalition in the deeply divided 120-seat Knesset. 

They agreed to a power-sharing deal last month, aiming to avert a fourth poll that is opposed across the political spectrum.



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