Netanyahu, Gantz ink deal to form new government after year-long political impasse

April 21, 2020 by JNS
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz have signed a new coalition agreement to form a “national emergency government” ending a political deadlock that lasted more than a year.

Blue and White Party election posters show leader Benny Gantz and Likud head Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of Israel’s third round of elections within a year, Feb. 18, 2020. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.

“I promised the State of Israel a national emergency government that will work to save lives and livelihoods of Israeli citizens,” said Netanyahu, who has served as a caretaker prime minister since December 2018.

The deal between the two leaders will see a rotation agreement, where Netanyahu remain as prime minister for 18 months and then will be replaced by Gantz. In the meantime, Gantz will serve as vice prime minister and defense minister under Netanyahu. The deal will also see an expansion of the cabinet to include 32 ministers, growing eventually to 36 ministers, the largest in Israel’s history.

“We prevented a fourth election,” Gantz said in a tweet. “We will protect our democracy and fight against the coronavirus.”

Israel held its national elections on March 2, with neither Netanyahu’s Likud Party or Gantz’s Blue and White Party able to secure a majority coalition on their own. National elections were also held in September and April 2019, resulting in a similar impasse.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) congratulated Netanyahu and Gantz for “their significant achievement in forging a broad-based coalition government.”

“Israel has once again demonstrated the resiliency and vibrancy of the only genuine democracy in the region,” it said.

The announcement of a national emergency government comes amid the coronavirus pandemic that has infected some 13,600 Israelis and lead to the deaths of 173 as of Monday.

In Australia, Dr Colin Rubenstein, executive director of The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, told J-Wire: “AIJAC welcomes the establishment of the new national emergency government in Israel to face both the immense challenges of the coronavirus crisis and Israel’s other immediate economic and strategic imperatives.

AIJAC applauds the pragmatism and patriotism of both Prime Minister Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, who have demonstrated that the spirit of democratic compromise and service to the national interest is very much alive and well in Israel, and appear set to give Israel the stable government it so badly needs after the unfortunate political impasse which the country has experienced over the last year. ”

Zionist Federation of Australia President Jeremy Leibler today welcomed the formation of a new Israeli government but has criticised the continuance of Yaacov Litzman as health minister.

In a statement to J-Wire, Jeremy Leibler said: “After 18 months and three elections, the formation of this government was overdue and welcome. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, together with Benny Gantz, now have a mandate to address the very real challenges facing the State of Israel, including the serious economic woes that the pandemic has induced”, said Mr Leibler.

Mr Leibler was hopeful that, “notwithstanding these challenges, a government of national unity will focus on also addressing challenges within Israeli society, and developing strategies to further strengthen the relationship between the State of Israel and Diaspora Jewry”.

“However”, Mr Leibler continued, “the Australian Jewish community remains deeply concerned about the re-appointment of Yaacov Litzman has health minister. He has been credibly accused of criminal misconduct, and the police have recommended he be indicted. He should not have been re-appointed.”

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry President Jillian Segal has described the deal to form a national unity government in Israel as “a chance for national healing”, while also acknowledging that “unity may prove to be a vain hope, given the many elements of the deal which have made it so controversial among Israelis”.

The agreement to form the government was made between Mr Netanyahu and Benny Gantz who, under the terms of the deal, will initially serve as defence minister, before he takes over as Prime Minister in October 2021.

Noting that the new government has been characterised by the two leaders as an emergency government to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic consequences, Ms Segal said: “It will also need to tackle other issues which have recently divided Israeli society – including social welfare, widening economic inequality, religious pluralism and, as critics of the deal have correctly highlighted,  governance reform”.

 

“Israel has been crying out for leadership of the kind that united the country in the past”, she said.  “After three inconclusive elections in the past year, Israel urgently needs a majority government that can deal effectively with the unprecedented challenges which the country faces, and about which diaspora communities have been voicing concern”.

JNS/J-Wire

Comments

2 Responses to “Netanyahu, Gantz ink deal to form new government after year-long political impasse”
  1. Rabbi Chaim Ingram says:

    Jeremy Leibler may speak for a segment of Australian Jewry in hie comments about Rabbi Yaacov Litzman. He does not speak for all segments and he certainly does not speak for me. Being the head of a Zionist organisation in the diaspora does not convey the right to tell Israel who should and should not be a minister in its government.

  2. Eion Isaac says:

    Netanyahu deserves to stay as prime minister because of his great energy and ability though he has excessive hubris .
    The young Israelis identify with his confidence and ability all leaders overreach .
    Gantz is a solid and ethical rock and the son of Holocaust survivors and and there is Ashkenazi a tough nut but with a socioeconomic conscience .

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