Israeli High Court orders Knesset speaker vote Thursday

March 26 (UPI) — Israel’s High Court of Justice has ordered an interim speaker to lead the Knesset and stage a vote Thursday to determine a permanent replacement, after parliamentary chairman Yuli Edelstein quit the post.

Edelstein, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, defied the court’s call for a replacement vote this week after a majority of the Knesset asked for the election of a new speaker. He resigned Wednesday.

Wednesday night, the court announced Amir Peretz, the most senior member of the Knesset, will serve as temporary speaker to keep legislative activities going and stage a vote for a permanent replacement.

The court ordered the vote to be held Thursday.

It’s still uncertain who could replace Edelstein as speaker. The Blue and White Party, led by opposition leader Benny Gantz, is expected to fill the role, as it won the most seats in the Knesset in national elections this month.

Blue and White lawmaker Meir Cohen has been mentioned as a top candidate, and the party may consider nominating Gantz as speaker to maintain unity government talks with Netanyahu’s party.

The Likud Party had previously threatened to end unity government talks if there was a vote for a new speaker. The two parties are also negotiating a temporary emergency government over the next six months to handle the coronavirus.

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