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Confusion Swirls in Jerusalem as Netanyahu Holds ‘Illegal’ Vote for Justice Minister

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks on as he arrives to a hearing in his corruption trial at Jerusalem’s District Court February 8, 2021. Photo: Reuben Castro/Pool via REUTERS

i24 News – Israel Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit is reportedly outraged after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu forced a vote by cabinet ministers to nominate Likud party lawmaker Ofir Akunis as Justice Minister, calling the “unprecedented” move illegal.

“You’ve carried out a vote against [the position of] the attorney general, an unprecedented event,” Mendelblit reportedly shouted at cabinet members while they were holding the vote.

“Don’t think this vote will pass,” public broadcaster Kan News reported the top attorney as saying. “It’s a vote held against the law.”

It was reported earlier Tuesday that Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White party, agreed to postpone the vote by 48 hours to supposedly decide on a suitable Justice Minister.

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Gantz had demanded a vote on his own nomination, but his candidacy was voted down 17-10.

According to Kan News, Netanyahu then submitted Akunis’ name for the post and called for a vote, a move considered illegal under the terms of the current government between the premier and Gantz, with the latter required to first sign off on a candidate for the position. 

Amid the ongoing confusion, leaders from across the political spectrum took to social media to decry Netanyahu for his actions in the cabinet meeting Tuesday.

“The saga surrounding the (lack of) appointment of a justice minister, which just came to a head in a bizarre cabinet meeting, is further testament to the urgent need to replace the leadership,” New Hope party leader and right-wing political rival Gideon Sa’ar tweeted.

While Opposition leader and head of the Yesh Atid party Yair Lapid stated: “Anyone who thought even for a moment to make a deal with Netanyahu has just received a reminder that there is no chance he’ll live up to his end of the deal.”

“The supreme disdain for the rule of law, for any agreement he’s made, the lies as a way of life — all of these exploded today surrounding the appointment of a justice minister. He just can’t not cheat.”

On Sunday, Israel’s Supreme Court ordered Netanyahu and Gantz to choose a new Justice Minister within 48 hours, giving the two leaders until Tuesday to make a decision or see the court intervene on the matter.

“We would prefer for the government to make such decisions on its own,” Israel’s Chief Justice Ester Hayut said at the hearing. “If we end up being needed to decide on the matter, free up your calendars for Tuesday. If there is no decision — we will have to convene.”

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