Netanyahu Dispatches His Mercenaries to Thrash Israel’s Top Court

Yuli Edelstein will end his seven year tenure as Knesset Speaker with a mark of disgrace and a tainted biography. He will go down in history as the first Knesset speaker – and hopefully the last – whose conduct was deemed by Israel’s High Court of Justice as “undermining the foundations of democracy,” and “damaging the Knesset's status as an independent authority, as well as the principle of peaceful transfer of power.”

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Edelstein, who has demonstrated statesmanship, respect and courtesy through the vast majority of his term, is about to end it on a sour and shameful note. In its ruling on Monday, the High Court made sure to compliment Edelstein on his performance until now, but the compliment only reinforces the disgrace.

The High Court ruled unanimously on Monday that Edelstein, who has barricaded himself in his seat, must convene the parliament by Wednesday to hold a vote on electing a new speaker. The ruling was made just an hour and a half after he refused to do so.

The justices’ swift and determined ruling will fuel right-wing inciters against the judicial system – Netanyahu’s cronies, for whom Edelstein knowingly or naively became a pawn at this stage of the political game.

Edelstein stubbornly refused to convene the Knesset, even though the High Court made it clear where its ruling was heading. Edelstein stuck to his bewildering stance, bringing shame upon himself.

Knesset protocols allow the Knesset speaker some flexibility in setting the date for the vote to choose a new Knesset speaker, until the government is sworn in. Therefore, Edelstein’s official stance may have been somewhat understandable, though barely. But one would expect that the person holding the second most important statesman-like position in the country, after the president – who he serves as a replacement to – to know better.

Edelstein noted numerous instances in which a Knesset speaker was elected many days after the Knesset was sworn in, while ignoring the current chaos, not to mention the fact that a solid majority of those representing the public are demanding his immediate replacement. And of course, he also overlooked the fact that he does not serve as Knesset speaker as someone who received the public’s vote of confidence, but as someone who holds his position through sheer inertia.