Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90
Former Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) playing backgammon with future Speaker Amir Peretz (Labor)

Former Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein, who resigned his post on Wednesday, adjourned the Knesset plenary session – in defiance of the explicit directive from the High Court of Justice to begin a debate on choosing his replacement.

Edelstein responded to the demand issued by Supreme Court President Esther Hayut that he respond to a petition that had been filed against him following his resignation, stating: “Meaning no disrespect the court, but please honor my conscientious decision. My replacement can do your bidding in 48 hours.”

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You get the feeling Yuli was not in his typical good mood on Wednesday?

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit argued at noon time that Edelstein’s resignation “does not absolve him from carrying out the court’s ruling,” which he must do in full.

Knesset counsel Eyal Yinon noted that once the Knesset debate had been adjourned, with the Speaker gone AWOL, there was no way to convene the plenum without a special order from the high court of justice.

Edelstein used the opportunity to lecture Hayut, telling her that her ruling, as part of the 5-justice panel, had not considered his full arguments, and that it would lead to a “constitutional crisis that has not been seen since the establishment of the state,” and will inflict “a severe harm on the Knesset.”

Edelstein said the court had been “dragged into political negotiations” instead of allowing the Knesset to elect a new speaker with a broad consent. He further claimed: “All along, I said I would add the matter to the agenda, but setting a date by the court is severs the possibility of political decision-making.”

The Knesset’s rules stipulate that Edelstein’s resignation will take effect 48 hours from the time his letter has been submitted. MK Amir Peretz (Labor), who is the eldest MK, will replace him. It is possible that Blue&White chairman Benny Gantz would elect to let Peretz keep his job, rather than promote MK Meir Cohen, from Blue&White, because Cohen is strongly affiliated with Yair Lapid, and as Speaker could torpedo a unity government with Likud.

Edelstein called Peretz on Wednesday to inform him of his expected role change on Friday, and Peretz responded by saying he would be sure to behave in a civic-minded manner, which was a jab – a friendly jab, but a jab nonetheless.

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