April 12: Israel’s High Court on Sunday evening threw out a petition filed earlier in the day seeking to disqualify Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from forming a government due to his corruption charges, saying it was filed too early.

Justice Alex Stein ruled that the petition was premature, since, despite President Reuven Rivlin saying he would not extend Benny Gantz’s mandate to form a coalition, he also had not tasked Netanyahu with doing so, The Times of Israel reported.

Two previous High Court petitions have been rejected in recent months on similar grounds, including after the September elections, when Netanyahu had not yet been formally indicted.

Stein said in his ruling that in the event that Rivlin tasks Netanyahu with cobbling together a coalition, the petition could be filed again and considered.

The petition, filed by 117 high-tech, business, security and education professionals, came minutes after Rivlin announced he would not extend Gantz’s mandate to form a government, and suggested he would not transfer the mandate to Netanyahu.

Israeli law requires cabinet ministers facing criminal indictment to resign from their cabinet posts, but there is no such stipulation for a prime minister.

Netanyahu’s trial was due to commence on March 17, but was delayed due to restrictions on Israel’s courts, as part of measures to combat the coronavirus, which were introduced by Justice Minister Amir Ohana, a Netanyahu loyalist. The trial is instead slated to begin on May 24.


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