Israel’s High Court of Justice has dismissed a petition submitted by 67 plaintiffs to deprive current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the right to form a new government, claiming that such issues should not be brought to the court prior to an election, the Haaretz newspaper reported.
According to the Haaretz newspaper, the petition demanded that Netanyahu should be forbidden from forming a government, given that he faces indictments for bribery, fraud and breach of trust. The court did not return a verdict and Supreme Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut stated that there were no legal obstacles blocking Netanyahu’s bid to form a new government, the newspaper reported.
Israelis are set to go to the polls on 2 March to vote in parliamentary elections. Last week, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, who filed the indictments against the prime minister in November, argued that the petition to block Netanyahu’s path to power should be dismissed until after the elections.
On the eve of the case, Netanyahu recorded a video message slamming the charges brought against him by Mendelblit, stating that it should be the people of Israel who should choose their leader, not the attorney general.
"It’s unacceptable for a single civil servant, the attorney general, however high his position, to decide in place of the general public and its representatives in the legislature who may run the country and who may not", Netanyahu remarked, as quoted by the newspaper.
On 27 December, Netanyahu was re-elected as the Likud Party leader in a landslide victory. The current prime minister won 72.5 percent of votes despite the charges against him.
Netanyahu has been accused of receiving luxury gifts such as cigars and champagne in exchange for political favours, as well as offering to trade secrets with newspapers in order to receive positive coverage. The prime minister has denied all charges.