With Israel facing a political impasse due to the uncertain results of the most recent election, the speaker of the Knesset, Yuli Edelstein, canceled the opening of the legislative session last week, first citing fears of coronavirus spreading among the members, then citing a desire not to interfere with coalition negotiations. Soon articles began appearing in the Israeli press warning of imminent danger to democracy, which were then echoed by an American press eager to believe the worst. But the Knesset resumed its business yesterday, with members voting in shifts, and no more than ten members allowed in the room at any given time. Haviv Rettig Gur explains that there was never a threat to democracy but a problem of a very different sort:
Just Because the Knesset Closed for a Few Days, Israeli Democracy Was Not about to Collapse
Israel Has Dodged a Constitutional Crisis, but Only Temporarily
Two weeks ago, then-Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein refused to hold a vote for his replacement, insisting that, in keeping with precedent, the new speaker should only be chosen after a governing coalition has been formed. As his move prevented the newly installed Israeli parliament from resuming its normal business, the Supreme Court tried to break the impasse with two unprecedented interventions into the legislative branch. To Evelyn Gordon, Edelstein acted out of a “genuine and serious concern” about constitutionally questionable moves by his opponents, even if the court was justified in its order that elections for the new speaker take place.