Israel's Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may form a new government while under indictment for corruption charges, clearing the way for him and his main rival to join together in a controversial power-sharing deal. The unanimous decision, released just before midnight, ended a more than year-long political stalemate and prevented the country from plunging into a fourth consecutive election in just over a year. Netanyahu and his rival-turned-partner, Benny Gantz, said they expected their coalition to be sworn into office next week, the AP reports. After battling to three inconclusive elections, Netanyahu and Gantz announced their "emergency" government last month, saying they needed to steer the country through the coronavirus pandemic.
But critics and good-government groups said their deal was illegal and challenged it in the Supreme Court. In particular, they objected to the creation of a new position of "alternate prime minister," a post that will allow Netanyahu to remain in office throughout his corruption trial. In its decision, the 11-judge panel rejected all of the challenges. "We did not find any legal reason to prevent MK Netanyahu from forming a government," the court said. "The legal conclusion we reached does not diminish the severity of the pending charges against MK Netanyahu for violations of moral integrity and the difficulty derived from the tenure of a prime minister accused of criminal activity," it added.
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