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Israel News

Likud tries to tap Akunis as justice minister, A-G rules vote illegal

CM 27/04/2021

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After hours of a stormy cabinet meeting, the Likud and its allies mid Tuesday afternoon voted to appoint Ofir Akunis as the new justice minister despite Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit ruling that this vote was illegal because Blue and White had not consented to the vote.

The meeting itself came about under pressure by the High Court of Justice, Mandelblit and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz following nearly a month in which the post has been vacant.
Gantz filled the post for a temporary three-month period until the start of April, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blocked his Blue and White Party from filling it permanently since then.
During the cabinet meeting, there was frequent shouting, accusations of conflicts of interest, violating the law and a general feel that the Likud and Blue and White could barely even sit in the same room, let alone resolve the issue.
Netanyahu claimed that it made no sense to appoint a permanent justice minister who could bind the next government’s hands on certain issues when a new government could come into being at any moment.
Instead, he suggested either granting certain justice minister powers to Gantz to resolve specific issues or having separate broader political negotiations with the Blue and White leader.
There also was a push to get an additional 48 hours to negotiate over the issue, though it was far from clear that the High Court would agree, given that Tuesday’s meeting came after two prior extensions. The court is set to hold a hearing on the matter at 5 p.m.

In the meantime, Gantz and other Blue and White officials said Netanyahu was acting cynically or even violating conflict of interest laws that prevent him from being involved in law enforcement issues while under indictment.
Public Security Minister Amir Ohana retorted that Gantz had conflict of interest issues because of the Fifth Dimension saga probe (though he is not a suspect there) and that the coalition agreement empowering Gantz to decide who the justice minister will be was null and void now that there is a new Knesset.
Mandelblit said that no one has a conflict of interest on the issue, but that a justice minister is needed to resolve the problem of unvaccinated prisoners coming to court in person.
He added that if the High Court must intervene and appoint a justice minister itself, it would be a disaster.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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