Israel at risk of fourth election as court probes Netanyahu eligibility

Israel’s Supreme Court began a two-day hearing yesterday to determine whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s indictment on criminal charges disqualifies him from forming a new government.

A ruling against Mr Netanyahu would be likely to trigger a snap election, the fourth since April 2019.

Mr Netanyahu and main rival Benny Gantz signed an agreement last month to form a unity government under which they would take turns leading Israel, after three elections that neither won.

In power for more than a decade and currently head of a caretaker government, right-wing Mr Netanyahu will serve as prime minister of a new administration for 18 months before handing the reins to centrist Mr Gantz, according to the unity deal.

The pact has support from a majority in parliament but several groups, including opposition parties and democracy watchdogs, have petitioned Israel’s highest court to nullify the deal and bar Mr Netanyahu from leading the government, citing the criminal proceedings against him.