Israel's parliament speaker resigns as political crisis continues

Speaker of the Knesset resigns ‘Supreme court is destroying parliament

But under law, Edelstein remains at his post until Friday, and Peretz's appointment to oversee the vote on his replacement meant it could be held before the next scheduled session of parliament on Monday.

Under law, Gantz could ask for a two-week extension but after three inconclusive national elections in less than a year, he might not get one.

Many Israelis feared that Mr Edelstein would simply ignore the court ruling, a move that would plunge the country into a constitutional crisis as the supreme court and the parliament battled for supremacy.

In what the court called an unprecedented challenge of its authority by a public official, current speaker Yuli Edelstein had disobeyed its order to hold an election for the post - a vote he was set to lose.

Gantz's surprise move was widely interpreted as a precursor to a power-sharing deal with the prime minister to form an emergency government.

"The Speaker's actions over the past few days and his refusal to act in accordance with the Supreme Court's ruling are bringing us dangerously close to anarchy", Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israeli Democracy Institute research center, said in a statement.

The opposition resorted to the Supreme Court, issuing a decision compelling Adelstein to hold the elections no later than Wednesday. In his resignation later, he assailed the court's decision as "an infringement on the sovereignty of the Knesset" - and in quitting defied it. "The Supreme Court's decision undermines the basis of Israeli democracy".

Netanyahu, who has denied charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, has made no comment on the controversy.

"There's deep unrest among all parts of the nation, we must put it aside", the premier said in a televised address late Wednesday focusing on anti-coronavirus measures.

Tamar Zandberg, a member of the leftwing Meretz party allied with Blue and White, accused Gantz of abandoning millions of voters who sought an alternative to Netanyahu.

This is a crucial period for Gantz, who's been assigned the task of forming a new governing coalition amid the health and economic crisis created by the coronavirus outbreak. But he has no easy path to do so because of resistance within his own camp to cooperating with the non-Zionist Joint List of Arab parties. There have been talks, but no breakthrough.



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