- Israelis have participated in three deadlocked elections since March 2019.
- The coalition government will be the biggest in Israel’s history.
- The move was unexpected on Gantz’s part.
On Monday, Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his political rival, Benny Gantz, of the Israel Resilience Party signed a coalition government agreement. The consensus ended a string of deadlocked elections and saber-rattling between the two principal candidates for prime minister.
Israelis have participated in three elections since March 2019. All three ended in a stalemate between Netanyahu and Gantz.
With no end in sight, and the coronavirus crisis destabilizing the country’s social-political dynamics, Gantz made the unexpected decision to join Netanyahu to form a coalition government. He has, in the past, underlined that Netanyahu is unfit to hold political office due to the corruption allegations leveled against him.
Did Netanyahu Outfox Gantz?
The new coalition deal stipulates that Gantz would become Israel’s Prime Minister for 18 months. Many believe that the latest move is a political victory for Netanyahu because he got Gantz to accede to many of his demands. He’s also turned his main political rival into his chief deputy.
The pact signed with Gantz is, however, set to put the brakes on the Netanyahu era. Israelis were deeply divided over Netanyahu’s political leadership before the union. Gantz strategically based last year’s political campaign on widespread discontent with Netanyahu.
The former military chief has combined right and center-left policies aimed at upending Netanyahu’s rhetoric as a purveyor of security in the region. This is by highlighting the severity of his corruption cases. Gantz, at one time, declared that he’d never share power with an indicted Prime Minister.
Gantz seems to have broken his pledge. His argument is that joining hands with his rival is vital in stabilizing the government and legislating policies needed to tackle COVID-19. The new Israeli government is expected to have 36 cabinet ministers and 16 deputy ministers. This makes it the largest in the nation’s history.
The new structure will be a challenge for Netanyahu’s coalition partner because the Israel Resilience Party only has 15 Members of the Knesset. Many of them are likely to take ministerial positions. This means that there’ll be no members left for appointment to Knesset committees.
The coalition deal provides that leadership of the 32 ministries will be divided equally between the Center-Left and Center-Right. Both the prime minister’s and Gantz’s parties are allowed to share cabinet positions with others that they wish to bring into the coalition.
At the Knesset, Netanyahu’s Likud party is set to have the Speaker’s role. His close associate, Yariv Levin, will be taking up the position. The agreement additionally allows the Prime Minister to appoint four ambassadors. As such, he’ll be able to offer high-profile positions to his powerful Likud allies who could have otherwise been appointed to ministerial posts.
The new ambassadorial positions are likely to be in the United Nations, France, Britain, and Australia.