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What was behind Netanyahu’s failed justice minister power play? – analysis

CM 28/04/2021

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 For a political move that had no chance of success, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempt to appoint his former spokesman Ofir Akunis as justice minister at Tuesday’s cabinet meeting was surprisingly planned meticulously.

Akunis attended a meeting with Netanyahu and former justice minister Amir Ohana on Monday night at the Prime Minister’s Office, where they worked out the details.
They decided to seek a 48-hour deferment from the Supreme Court to avoid appointing a justice minister. The delay was intended to allow Netanyahu to woo Yamina and New Hope to his government after the Likud central committee passed a proposal pre-approving mergers with the parties.
Knowing that Blue and White leader Benny Gantz could reject the delay, Netanyahu planned to face off against the legal establishment. Akunis even came to the meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office, even though the cabinet meeting took place on Zoom.
The Likud said Gantz had agreed to the 48-hour delay and then reneged on it for political reasons involving his coalition negotiations. Blue and White denied ever agreeing.
Sources in Likud said that because the proposal to appoint a justice minister did not specify a candidate, once Gantz was voted down, they had the right to propose their own candidate, even if the Justice Ministry belonged to Blue and White in the previous coalition agreement.
It was not only the massive public outcry and the minimal chance of succeeding in court that made Netanyahu back down from Akunis’s appointment on Wednesday morning.

There was also a real danger that the Supreme Court would begin action to declare Netanyahu incapable of serving during his trial.
Netanyahu told Likud MKs that giving up on the Justice portfolio was “part of a wider move.” The fate of the sensitive Communications portfolio is set to be decided by Sunday’s cabinet meeting.
Lastly, Netanyahu had proven he could fight the legal establishment one last time, which looks good to his political base. If an anti-Netanyahu government is formed after his mandate to build a coalition ends, he will continue that fight as leader of the opposition.
But if his opponents fail to form a government, his effort against the legal establishment will be a central part of his campaign in a fifth election.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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