Supreme Court freezes Netanyahu's choice for Justice Minister

The interim prime minister had chosen Ofir Akunis, a staunch loyalist and Likud member. A vote sanctioned by forcing the procedures and blocked by the Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit. More talks on the choice is scheduled for today. Criticism and attacks from the opposition: it is not possible to make deals with Netanyahu.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Israeli Supreme Court has issued a temporary injunction that "freezes" the decision of Benjamin Netanyahu to assign the Ministry of Justice to Ofir Akunis, a Likud member and loyal to the interim prime minister.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit maintains that the appointment is illegal because "the Deputy Prime Minister [Benny Gantz] did not agree to put it on the agenda" and for this reason "it was not voted on".

According to the judges, the move represents a strain on the current system of power sharing between the two rivals, Netanyahu and Gantz. The political survival of the interim prime minister, engaged in an attempt to obtain a majority in the Knesset after the fourth vote in two years, is linked to the corruption trial in which he is accused and from which he has so far been able to escape thanks to the immunity granted by his political role.

Hence the choice to proceed with the appointment of a loyalist to the Ministry for Justice, triggering the reaction of the judiciary which blocked the process in a country on the verge of an institutional crisis.

Despite opposition from government ally Benny Gantz (to date), the Prime Minister has called an executive meeting to approve Akunis’s appointment, violating the attorney general’s provisions. The choice of a Minister for Justice has long been invoked by the Supreme Court, according to which a government cannot function without a minister in full office after the resignation of the leader of the Blue White party in early April.

Last night the Supreme Court met to discuss the matter and issued a temporary injunction freezing Netanyahu's appointment. The judges are expected to pick up the case today at 3.30pm Jerusalem time.

During yesterday’s vote, Attorney General Mendelblit inveighed against members of the executive, accusing them of having made "an unprecedented gesture" by forcing Akunis’s appointment as minister. "Do not think - he added - that this vote will pass, because it is against the law".

Several political leaders also spoke on the matter: Gideon Sa'ar spoke of a "saga" that led to the choice in the context of a "bizarre government meeting", a sign of the "urgent need to change leadership".

Opposition representative Yair Lapid warns "anyone who has thought even for a second of making deals with Netanyahu", because this story is a "reminder that it is not possible to obtain compliance with such an agreement".