İrem UZUN -TDO- The speaker of Israel's parliament, an ally of Benjamin Netanyahu, resigned Wednesday, clearing the way for a vote that could see him replaced by an opponent of the embattled premier. Yuli Edelstein, a member of Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party, had refused to schedule a speakership vote until a new government was formed, but stood down after the Supreme Court set a Wednesday deadline for the vote to take place.
On Monday, Israel’s supreme court ordered Edelstein to reconvene the Knesset, which he rejected, raising fears of a potential constitutional crisis. Facing growing pressure, the speaker, who was in the job for seven years, made the shock announcement on Wednesday that he would resign instead, accusing the court of “crude and arrogant intervention”.
“As a democrat, as a Zionist Jew, as someone who fought against dark regimes, and as the speaker of parliament, I consider the supreme court decision to be a grave, mistaken decision demonstrating a dangerous moral breakdown,” he said, speaking in the Knesset. Under parliamentary regulations, Edelstein’s resignation will only take effect in two days, probably postponing political battles into next week.
That would pave the way for the opposition to take control of the legislative agenda as the country struggles to suppress a corona virus outbreak that has so far infected more than 2,000 Israelis. The resignation comes after a year of political turmoil that has seen three inconclusive elections, and after Netanyahu imposed strict legal and security measures to deal with the pandemic. Anti-Netanyahu forces claimed 62 seats in the 120-member Knesset in the March 2 election, with the premier's right-wing party and its religious allies claiming 58. Blue and White's leader Benny Gantz has been tasked with trying to form a government.