The Israeli Supreme Court approved a coalition agreement between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival Benny Gantz on Wednesday that paves the way for the inauguration of a unity government next week.
The alliance formed between the right-wing incumbent and his centrist challenger last month followed three inconclusive elections in less than a year.
Under the three-year contract, Netanyahu will serve as Prime Minister for 18 months, with Gantz as his deputy, a new position in Israeli governance.
They will switch roles in the middle of the deal, splitting cabinet positions between Netanyahu's Likud Party and Gantz & # 39; Blue and White Alliance and their respective allies.
Israel has had no stable government since December 2018 and the agreement offers rare political stability as the country tries to repair the economic damage caused by the novel corona virus that has infected more than 16,000 people in the country.
Opponents of the pact attempted to torpedo him in court, arguing that Netanyahu should be excluded from forming a government during the criminal charges and that certain terms of the agreement violated the law.
However, the Supreme Court ruled that "there is no legal reason to prevent the formation of a government," led by Netanyahu.
When the decision was made, Likud and Blue and White said in a joint statement that the new government would be sworn in on May 13.
Netanyahu has been accused of accepting inappropriate gifts and illegally exchanging favors for positive media coverage.
He denies wrongdoing and his trial is scheduled to begin on May 24.
While Israeli law prohibits ministers from serving on charges, there is no such law for prime ministers.
Opponents of the agreement had argued at a court hearing earlier this week that Netanyahu is not currently a normal prime minister, but the interim administration caretaker who is a candidate for government formation.
They claimed that he should be prevented from doing so because of the charges brought against him.
The judges said that while they were not trying to "lighten the severity of the charges against Netanyahu," they believed they could be addressed in his upcoming trial.
No room to intervene
Opponents of the deal also posed legal challenges against certain provisions of the Gantz-Netanyahu agreement.
This included the creation of a government with a three-year mandate instead of the traditional four, and a clause that defined the government's first six months as an "emergency" phase, which was exclusively devoted to fighting the pandemic.
Likud and Blue and White informed the court on Tuesday that they would adjust certain provisions.
The judges said that while the coalition agreement "poses significant legal difficulties, we decided that there was no room to intervene."
Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit had informed the court that problematic clauses in the pact could be reviewed "in the implementation phase".
Vote in parliament
Regardless, lawmakers in Israel's 120 seats had already begun voting on Wednesday on various bills to adopt the coalition agreement.
However, individual votes were planned for each of the approximately 1,000 amendments proposed by the opposition, so that a final result is not expected until Thursday.
The coalition appears to have the 61 votes needed for approval, including Likud's 36 Knesset seats, the 15 Gantz-controlled, and ultra-Orthodox legislators who support Netanyahu.
Assuming that the agreement comes about, Parliament would ask President Reuvin Rivlin to give Netanyahu a formal mandate to form a government.
With a presidential mandate, Netanyahu could then complete his coalition, including ongoing bargaining for cabinet jobs.
Gantz's former ally, Yair Lapid, who was about to become Parliament's opposition leader, blew up what he called excessive focus on ministerial positions.
"A single mother with two children who lives in a rented apartment and has lost her job will be on the street next month," Lapid said of the pandemic.
"We should deal with this, not with which politician gets which job."
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)