Yesterday, PM Netanyahu tried to jam through the appointment of Likud ally Ofir Akunis as justice minister, a move that was overruled by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit as unlawful. According to his coalition agreement with Blue and White, all ministerial appointments must be agreed to by party leader Benny Gantz, and Gantz did not agree to the appointment. Critics have accused Netanyahu of trying to install a friendly justice minister who would then move to curtail the PM’s ongoing fraud trial. Gantz had been serving as temporary justice minister until April 1, when Netanyahu refused to extend his tenure. The High Court demanded that Netanyahu appoint a justice minister immediately.
Today, Netanyahu switched gears and appointed Benny Gantz as justice minister and retract his appointment of Ofir Akunis.
In his effort to form a unity government, Yamina leader Naftali Bennett met with Arab Ra’am party leader Mahmoud Abbas. Netanyahu has until next Tuesday night to form a government. If he fails to do so, which at this point seems to be the case, then the mandate to form a government will be given to either Bennett or Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid. The 2 have been involved in talks to form a unity government along with right wing parties New Hope and Yisrael Beteynu and left leaning parties Blue and White, Labor and Meretz. Bennett and Lapid would rotate as prime ministers, with Bennett taking the first turn.
Thomas Nides is to be named the new U.S. ambassador to Israel according to a report on Wednesday in the Washington Post. Nides, a former State Department official under President Barak Obama, serves as Managing Director and Vice Chairman of Morgan Stanley.
Birthright will resume its educational trips to Israel in May.