High Court set to make precedential ruling after freezing Netanyahu’s minister pick

The High Court of Justice is set to rule in the coming hours on the unprecedented situation regarding the appointment of a justice minister, after it temporarily froze the appointment of Likud MK Ofir Akunis as minister yesterday. The cabinet — led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — had openly defied the attorney general’s forceful warnings that the move was illegal and pushed through the appointment.

The court issued the ruling less than two hours after a hearing on Akunis’s appointment, which was approved earlier in the day over the strident objections of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit in a cabinet meeting that quickly devolved into a shouting match between Likud and Blue and White ministers.

By holding the vote, Mandelblit told Netanyahu during the meeting, the Likud-led bloc of the caretaker government had flouted a quasi-constitutional Basic Law, amended last year by Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, that reserved the position for a candidate backed by Gantz’s Blue and White-led bloc.

The High Court justices said Akunis cannot serve as justice minister until the court decides otherwise and said the position will remain vacant in the interim.

Netanyahu and Akunis originally had until 11 a.m. to justify why they believe the appointment should still go through, in violation of Likud’s coalition agreement with Blue and White, which was enshrined into a Basic Law.

However, they have requested a delay in the deadline to submit their response.

The judges are scheduled to reconvene at 3:30 p.m. to discuss the arguments before reaching a final decision.

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