May 6 (UPI) -- Israel's High Court on Wednesday ruled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can form a new government despite facing criminal indictments.
The 11-judge panel rejected petitions by advocacy groups and opposition figures stating that members of Israel's parliament, known as the Knesset, can't be appointed prime minister while facing corruption charges and challenging the legality of a coalition agreement between Netanyahu and his rival Benny Gantz to form a new government.
In their ruling, the judges said they could not intervene in the appointment of Netanyahu as prime minister despite "grave charges pending" against him, saying he was not automatically disqualified under the law and the court could still review the discretion of any appointment.
They also ruled that the Knesset is responsible for appointing the prime minister and the court must defer heavily to its decision.
Netanyahu's Likud Party and Gantz's Blue and White Party issued a joint statement following the decision saying they have "concluded the establishment of the government" and announced a swearing-in ceremony would be held May 13.
Under the agreement reached last month, Netanyahu will remain prime minister for 18 months and will then be replaced by Gantz. The government will also comprise 36 ministers and 16 deputies distributed among the Likud and Blue and White parties as well as three other minor parties.
Netanyahu is set to stand trial on the corruption charges on May 24 after delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.