Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein resigns hours before a court deadline to elect his replacement

His departure is the latest act in the battle for control of Israel's parliament


The speaker of Israel's parliament has resigned on the day of a deadline set by the High Court for him to hold elections to pick his replacement.

Yuli Edelstein, a member of Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, had been resisiting pressure to hold a vote from opposition MKs, who now control a majority in the Knesset.

The High Court had ruled on Monday that he had must allow elections for a new speaker within two days.

But in his resignation speech on Wednesday morning, Mr Edelstein said the court's decision "undercuts the foundations of democracy."

"I will not allow Israel to fall into anarchy," he added.

Opposition parties say Mr Edelstein was himself subverting democracy by refusing to convene parliament to discuss the issue.

After elections earlier this month Likud and its right-wing allies have 58 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, three short of a majority, while 62 MKs are opposed to Mr Netanyahu continuing as prime minister.

Mr Edelstein had argued a new speaker would be an obstacle to attempts to form a national unity government between Likud and Blue & White, the main opposition alliance.

But in a statement on Tuesday, Blue & White leader Benny Gantz distanced himself from the prospect of joining a Netanyahu-led government.

The speaker's resignation only takes effect in 48 hours, meaning the Knesset is unlikely to be able to pass laws until next week.

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