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Israel: High Court hears petitions against Netanyahu for second day

Israelis demonstrate against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu due to his upcoming trial for corruption, keeping two metres apart under coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions in Tel Aviv, Israel on April 25, 2020. [Daniel Bar On - Anadolu Agency]
Israelis demonstrate against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu due to his upcoming trial for corruption, keeping two metres apart under coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions in Tel Aviv, Israel on April 25, 2020. [Daniel Bar On - Anadolu Agency]

Israel's High Court of Justice convened for a second consecutive day on Monday to hear separate petitions against Likud Party leader and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed has reported.

The court is hearing petitions against the legality of the coalition agreement reached last month between Netanyahu and Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz in which Netanyahu would serve for 18 months as Prime Minister. A decision is expected on Thursday.

Netanyahu still stands indicted for fraud, bribery and breach of trust. If the court's decision goes against him later this week, Israel will almost certainly face a fourth General Election since April last year due to the ongoing political instability and the coronavirus crisis.

Observers point out that if he remains as Prime Minister, Netanyahu will have the power to appoint and rotate ministers and senior officials. Critics say that this means that he will have the opportunity to see the thread of the legal action related to his indictments.

READ: Netanyahu's son in online rant for 'free, democratic and Christian' Europe 

With his court hearings due to start on 24 May, Netanyahu denies all of the allegations against him. He accuses his political opponents of manipulating this issue and "persecuting" him.

The coalition agreement enjoys a consensus in the Knesset, but the opposition and NGOS working to protect democracy appealed to the High Court to cancel the deal, claiming that it protects Netanyahu from due legal process.

Speaking to reporters on Monday evening, however, Netanyahu pressed the court not to get involved in the country's political affairs lest it risk forcing new elections, AP reported.

"We hope the court doesn't interfere," said the Prime Minister. "It doesn't need to interfere. There is the will of the people, the clear expression of the will of the people." A fourth election would be a "catastrophe", he added.

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