On Wednesday, the High Court of Justice has unanimously rejected the petitions against Benjamin Netanyahu forming the new government while being under indictment, as well as those against Netanyahu and Gantz making a coalition deal.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz have issued a statement on their agreement to swear in a new government on 13 May, which was approved by the Supreme Court.

The High Court, consisting of 11 judges, on Wednesday unanimously ruled that there is "no reason to interfere with the Cabinet's imposition of Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud-Blue coalition agreement", according to state-run Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation. A petition that sought to invalidate the coalition agreement was also rejected.

"The judge did well to not intervene. The people are sovereign in Israel, and it has spoken", Culture Minister Miri Regev from Netanyahu’s Likud party said, cited by the Times of Israel.

The judges noted that although the coalition agreement "raises serious legal difficulties", there is no precedent to intervene in its clauses.

The reconciliation of Netanyahu and Gantz followed three fruitless elections, after which they both announced an 'emergency' government last month, vowing to put aside their rivalry to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. In late April, the two former rivals signed a 14-page pact that envisages the division of power between them so that the creation of a government could be possible.

Under their adopted deal, Netanyahu will remain the prime minister for 18 more months, while Gantz will hold the position of defence minister and will subsequently replace Netanyahu.

Earlier in the year, the Israeli PM was indicted on charges of accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust, which he repeatedly denied, labeling them a politically motivated "witch hunt".

Tweeps Praise Israeli High Court's Decision to Greenlight Netanyahu-Gantz Pact

Now that the High Court is no longer an obstacle, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will need to collect the 61 signatures needed for him to form a government. The deadline is set to expire on Thursday night. If the PM fails, Israel will go to the polls again, for the fourth time in under two years.

Israel's High Court has rejected petitions submitted weeks earlier by several NGOs associated with the country's left-wing circles demanding the institution rule against letting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu form a government given his indictment charges.

The court has also decided to refrain from making a decision on whether the pact signed between the premier and his former rival Benny Gantz was in fact legal.

At the same time, the court admitted the coalition pact dividing power between Netanyahu and Gantz poised some challenges, primarily because it weakened the country's opposition but chose not to rule on the matter so as not to further mar its already damaged reputation.

The High Court of Justice as well as the entire judiciary system have long been accused of bias against the PM, with the situation spiraling out of control in November of last year, when masses took to the streets across the country following Netanyahu's indictment. Protesters called on the institution to take its hands off the PM and stop interfering in Israel's political processes.

Embracing the Decision

This time too many Israelis expressed support for the prime minister and emphasised that the court stay away from politics.

"Netanyahu has been given the full backing of the court. He can serve as the PM until there is a final decision in his case [trial due to begin on May 24 - ed.]. That's it. It is over. You can no longer say that he is a prime minister with three indictment cases... the court just proved that you are a bunch of haters who have been inciting from dusk till dawn", wrote one Twitter user, referring to activists in Israel that urged the court to interfere to remove Netanyahu from power.

"The court knows what the public is thinking. They know that disqualifying Bibi will be an exaggeration. They no longer want to play with fire...they are scared that [had they chosen to interfere], they would have caused another round of elections. This is the end of the left-wing", wrote another tweep.

"The left has to understand. We are the majority here. With all due respect to the High Court, it cannot replace the country's citizens. Left-wingers, you can now sink into depression. This time your attempt to steal democracy has failed".

End of Democracy?

But not everyone joined the chorus:

"As of tonight, fear has also fallen on the judges of the High Court. Sodom and Gomorrah. From tonight, every minister, every mayor, every public figure knows that it is permissible to steal, give bribes, get bribes, sexually harass, rape, and still be elected to public office. The words were over tonight...".

​"Tonight is the end of the High Court, the rule of law and democracy", a fellow Twitterian weighed in.

Racing Against the Clock

Meanwhile, Netanyahu and Gantz agreed Wednesday to swear in their new government on May 13 after "completing necessary legislation". 

This includes the voting that will take place later today on amending some of Israel's basic laws such as the Basic Law of the Government and extending the tenure of the political duo in the PM's chair until 2024, a year longer than what was initially planned in the coalition agreement.

In a parallel development, Netanyahu has also started collecting the 61 signatures needed for him to form a government. The deadline to submit his candidacy will expire on Thursday night. If he fails, Israel will go to the polls again, for the fourth time in under two years.

If the signatures are secured, Netanyahu will then have two weeks to form a government but as past experience has already taught him this will not be an easy task.

Although he has the backing of Israel's religious parties coupled with the support of the Blue and White giving the camp more than 70 legislators, the job of dividing the limited parliamentary posts might cause friction and unnecessary upheaval, something that Netanyahu would like to avoid at all costs.