Netanyahu ally Edelstein resigns as speaker of Israeli parliament

The speaker of Israel’s parliament, an ally of Benjamin Netanyahu, resigned on Wednesday, clearing the way for a vote that could see him replaced by an opponent of the embattled prime minister.

Yuli Edelstein, a member of Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party, had refused to schedule a speakership vote until a new government was formed, but stood down after the Supreme Court set a Wednesday deadline for the vote to take place.

“I hereby resign from my position as speaker of the Knesset,” Edelstein said, in a move that could see a member of the centrist Blue and White party become speaker in the coming days.

That would pave the way for the opposition to take control of the legislative agenda as the country struggles to suppress a corona virus outbreak that has so far infected more than 2,000 Israelis.

The resignation comes after a year of political turmoil that has seen three inconclusive elections, and after Netanyahu imposed strict legal and security measures to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.