High Court to rule on PM recusal law at 6:30 p.m.

Jeremy Sharon is The Times of Israel’s legal affairs and settlements reporter

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends an event in Jerusalem, December 18, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/FLASH90)?
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends an event in Jerusalem, December 18, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/FLASH90)?

The High Court of Justice will issue its ruling on the government’s controversial recusal law at 6:30 this evening, the court announces.

The recusal or incapacitation law was passed in March to prevent a process whereby the High Court or the attorney general could order the prime minister to recuse himself from office.

The coalition advanced the legislation to prevent a situation in which the attorney general would declare Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to have a conflict of interest as premier when dealing with the government’s contentious judicial overhaul legislation, which government watchdog groups argued could impact his ongoing corruption trial.

During the hearing in the High Court on petitions against the law in September, then Supreme Court president Esther Hayut said the court was not considering outright annulling the law, but rather whether to delay its implementation to a future date in order to circumvent its apparently highly personal aspect, in that it would be of immediate political and legal benefit to Netanyahu.

Changing the implementation date of the law could in theory put Netanyahu in immediate peril since there are petitions calling for Netanyahu to be ordered to recuse himself that pre-date the law’s passage.

The attorney general has said however that it is unlikely, although not impossible, that she would take the drastic step of ordering him to step down.

Should the court rule against the government, it would be the second serious court defeat in a week for Netanyahu’s administration, following an unprecedented ruling on Monday in which the court struck down an amendment to Basic Law: The Judiciary which banned all courts from using the reasonableness judicial standard to review government and ministerial decisions.

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