Yesterday, eleven months of political stalemate in Israel appeared to have come to an end as the sitting prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his main rival, Benny Gantz, agreed to form a unity government together with some of the smaller parties. This development has fractured Gantz’s Blue and White party into its constituent factions. Meanwhile, the resignation of Yuli Edelstein as interim Knesset speaker—a position meant to be occupied for just a few hours, but which he has held for nearly a year—has allowed the Knesset to resume business as usual.
The Knesset Has Resumed Its Business, but Both Sides Have Broken Unwritten Rules
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.