(December 26, 2019 / JNS) Israeli Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit on Thursday declined to offer his opinion on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s eligibility to form a government before Netanyahu’s hearing on Dec. 31.
On Sunday, Israel’s High Court of Justice had ordered Mandelblit to submit a legal brief and opinion on whether the prime minister could assemble a government despite the indictments against him.
This is the second time that Mandelblit refused, the first time being last week, when he said that he would not offer his view unless the High Court declared that it would make a decision about Netanyahu’s eligibility before the election. Though the court expressed that it would make this decision, Mandeblit still refused, saying that he needs a formal order stating so.
Mandelblit instead suggested that the High Court of Justice debate on Dec. 31 whether the courts should decide the issue before the election.
Mandelblit’s refusal to offer his opinion, which reflects a concern over interfering with the voters’ right to choose, follows his formal submission of Netanyahu’s indictment on corruption charges including bribery, breach of trust and fraud on Dec. 2.
The court’s decision is bound to impact the chaotic political situation in Israel, where a third election in a one-year span has been set for March 2, 2020, after neither Netanyahu nor Blue and White Party head Benny Gantz were able to cobble together a coalition following the country’s April 9 and Sept. 17 elections.
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