Netanyahu and Gantz Sign Deal for Unity Government

  • Netanyahu will remain as Prime Minister for the first 1.5 years, Gantz the next 1.5 years.
  • "We prevented a fourth election," Gantz said in a statement. "We will protect our democracy and fight against the coronavirus."
  • The Netanyahu-Gantz government has also been joined by Labor and religious parties, Shas and UTJ.

After many attempts to form a new government in Israel, and three elections in one year, an agreement was finally made between Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz of the Israel Resilience Party. The two will form an emergency unity government. Gantz’s party will receive sixteen ministerial positions and Likud will have fourteen.

Israelis protested against Netanyahu and opposed Gantz’s formation of a new government with him.

The agreement between the two sides, which enabled them to reach a majority coalition, is for Netanyahu to continue to be Prime Minister for the first one and a half years. Gantz will serve as Prime Minister for the next one and a half years. Netanyahu will be allowed to remain in the government as Deputy Prime Minister for the remainder of the term until the next elections. However, Netanyahu, who has been indicted, will not be allowed to run in the next elections.

During the term that Netanyahu is Prime Minister, Likud will hold ministerial positions of public security, transportation, housing, education, environmental protection, energy, Jerusalem affairs and other lesser posts. The Israel Resilience Party will receive defense, foreign affairs, justice, immigration, culture, sports, communications, agriculture, strategic issues, tourism, social equality, and diaspora affairs.

“We prevented a fourth election,” Gantz said in a statement. “We will protect our democracy and fight against the coronavirus.” Through this agreement, Netanyahu has agreed to end his political career after the term of this new government.  In order to form this unified government with Likud, Gantz needed to split his Blue and White alliance into three parts and carry his own coalition of 16 ministers to join with Likud.

The deal between Gantz and Netanyahu was made on Israeli Holocaust Day. The celebration at Yad Vashem was limited by Coronavirus to a small attendance.

Netanyahu made this decision at the expense of some of his supporters from other parties, who will not be able to remain in their strong ministerial positions with Likud that they had in a narrow, right-wing government. Likud could not make a government on its own and needed to join with Blue and White. This was a big sacrifice for Likud, who had received more mandates than Gantz in the last elections.

Part of the agreement was a clause for annexation and sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, as of July 1. Ayman Odeh, leader of the Arab Joint List, called this deal a slap in the face for the majority of Israelis.  The Joint List backed Gantz to form a narrow government to include his alliance of three majority-Arab parties.

To do this, the leader of Yisrael Beiteinu, Avigdor Lieberman, needed to give his consent. Telem, led by Moshe Ya’alon, and Yesh Atid, led by Yair Lapid, broke away from Blue and White and remained in opposition. In a surprise, Labor leader Amir Peretz will join the coalition and become Economy Minister. Fellow party member Itzik Shmuli will take Welfare. Aryeh Deri of Shas stays at the Interior Ministry and Yaakov Litzman of United Torah Judaism, who recently recovered from COVID-19, will remain at Health.

The Coronavirus was the great equalizer to bring Netanyahu and Gantz, the religious parties and the left, together.

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David Wexelman

Author of 5 books on the internet on topics of Jewish mysticism, managing two websites.

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