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Israel Supreme Court approves Netanyahu-Gantz deal

Published: Updated:

Israel’s Supreme Court on Wednesday approved the coalition agreement between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival-turned-ally Benny Gantz, paving the way for a unity government to be sworn in next week.

The country’s top court considered eight separate petitions from opponents of the pact at a hearing this week.

But it ruled “there was no legal reason to prevent the formation of a government” led by Netanyahu.

As the decision was delivered, Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party and the centrist Blue and White alliance led by Gantz said in a joint statement that the new government would be sworn in on May 13.

Israel has been without a stable government since Netanyahu’s last coalition was dissolved in December 2018.

The country has since held three inconclusive elections in less than a year, with Netanyahu and Gantz, a former military chief, both unable to form a viable coalition.

They agreed to unite last month under a deal that will see Netanyahu serve as premier for 18 months, with Gantz as his alternate.

They will swap roles at the midway point of the pact.

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The deal’s opponents had argued that criminal indictments against Netanyahu should bar him from leading a government.

The veteran premier has been charged with accepting improper gifts and illegally trading favors in exchange for positive media coverage.

He denies wrongdoing and his trial is set to start on May 24.

The Supreme Court said that by approving the coalition it “was not seeking to diminish the severity of the charges” against Netanyahu, but concluded those could be handled in his trial without blocking the new government.