Israel’s High Court told an over-eager NGO on Sunday that it is still too soon to file a petition to force Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to resign due to the indictments against him.
Justice Menachem Mazuz said the court would not at this time hear the demands brought by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, and that the NGO would have to wait for decisions to be made on the matters by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.
The NGO had the distinction of being the first to submit such a petition on Thursday, beating out the Labor-Gesher party and others who said they were planning to do the same.
In its petition to the Court, the group said the first-ever criminal charges against a sitting Israeli prime minister constituted “the crossing of a red line and a grave blow to public trust in ruling institutions.”
Mandelblit himself anticipated the High Court’s role in the crisis, saying on December 3, 2018, that it would have to decide whether or not he can stay in office if indicted.
At that time, he told the Knesset State Control Committee that “when it comes to a minister, there’s a clear ruling from the Court that they have to resign if an indictment is filed. As for a prime minister, that’s a complex question and will certainly reach the High Court, which will rule on this issue too,” The Times of Israel quoted him as saying.
Then-Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked voiced the prevailing opinion that “from the legal perspective, if there’s an indictment, the prime minister doesn’t have to resign,” and only if convicted would he be obligated to do so.
A Reuters “Explainer” stated as fact that if indicted, “Netanyahu is under no strict legal obligation to quit.”
Even the anti-Netanyahu Haaretz, which demands his (voluntary) resignation at every opportunity, has so far acknowledged that “by law, Netanyahu isn’t obligated to resign…”