Cabinet Approves Gantz As Israel’s Justice Minister, After About-face By Netanyahu

Alternate Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Benny Gantz walks at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, October 21, 2020. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** ???? ???? ?????? ??? ???? ??? ??? ?? ???????

JERUSALEM (JNS) – Israel’s Cabinet on Wednesday approved Blue and White head Benny Gantz’s appointment as Israel’s justice minister for the duration of the transitional government, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to the move earlier in the day in a dramatic reversal.

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In a stormy Cabinet session on Tuesday, Netanyahu advanced fellow Likud Party member Ofir Akunis for the role, after Gantz’s candidacy failed by a vote of 17-10. The vote for Akunis passed, but Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit objected, claiming the vote had violated the coalition agreement between Blue and White and the Likud. The High Court of Justice then suspended Akunis’s appointment, giving Netanyahu until Wednesday afternoon to justify it.

Hours before the High Court’s deadline, Netanyahu chose to support Gantz’s appointment, though he insisted in his response to the court that Tuesday’s disputed vote was legitimate.

Gantz had been serving in the role in an interim capacity until March, when his term expired. Since then, Israel has been without a justice minister. When Gantz advanced his candidacy for the post on Tuesday, Netanyahu objected, saying that there was no need to appoint a permanent justice minister when a new coalition is expected to be formed shortly. However, Gantz’s candidacy was brought to a vote.

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When the vote failed to pass, Netanyahu then nominated Akunis in a surprise move, later claiming that since Israel has held elections since the coalition agreement was signed, it is not clear whether the agreement is still in effect.

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