In this file photo from 2013, Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is seen alongside Avichai Mandelblit, the current attorney-general and at the time the cabinet secretary. (Ronen Zvulun - Pool/Getty Images)

Israeli Party Turning to Court to Force Netanyahu to Step Down over Indictment

Israel’s Labor party and government accountability organizations are expected to file petitions with the country’s High Court of Justice in a bid to oust Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from office. The initiative comes after the attorney-general announced last Thursday that he would indict Netanyahu in three separate corruption cases. While Israeli law technically allows a prime minister to remain in power until convicted and exhausting all appeals, no court has ever debated the matter, as Netanyahu is Israel’s first-ever sitting leader to face criminal charges. In a statement, Labor contended that it was time for Netanyahu’s Likud party to “have mercy on Israel” and ditch the prime minister in order to potentially avoid a third national election in less than a year. In this respect, Netanyahu rival Gideon Sa’ar has called on the Likud Central Committee to set a leadership primary date, claiming he would be able to form a coalition as party chief. By contrast, many of Netanyahu’s closest party allies have come to his defense, as have members of other right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties. Parliamentarians are currently in a three-week period in which any of them can attempt to garner the support of 61 of their peers in order to create a majority government. Meanwhile, the centrist Blue and White alliance of parties is urging the attorney-general to order Netanyahu to relinquish his four other ministerial posts – the health, agriculture, social affairs and diaspora affairs portfolios. Over the weekend, Netanyahu released a video saying there was “no question” he would accept any court decisions while reiterating his belief that police and state prosecutors were attempting a “coup” to overthrow him, saying the “investigators should be the ones investigated.”

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