- As per the arrangement, Netanyahu will be able to exercise a veto over the choice of the Attorney General.
- “I promised the state of Israel a national emergency government that will work to save the lives and livelihoods of the citizens of Israel,” Netanyahu tweeted.
- “We have prevented a fourth election. We will protect democracy. We will fight coronavirus and care for all Israel’s citizens,” Gantz tweeted.
After a year— and three non-conclusive legislative elections— Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his top rival, Benny Gantz, a former general, and leader of the Blue and White party, agreed to form a national unity government. Under the agreement, the post of Prime Minister will be rotated between the two leaders.
As per the arrangement, Netanyahu will be able to exercise a veto over the choice of the Attorney General— a blow to the aspirations of the Prime Minister’s critics, who thought that Netanyahu would be tried quickly for the crimes of fraud of which he is accused. “I promised the state of Israel a national emergency government that will work to save the lives and livelihoods of the citizens of Israel,” Netanyahu tweeted.
As per the arrangement, it is Netanyahu who is set to be the first one to serve as prime minister for a set period. Gantz is expected to assume the premiership position in October 2021. In the meantime, Gantz, a former chief of Israel’s armed forces, is expected to assume the position of the nation’s Defense Minister.
Quite a number of his political allies, as well as two members of Israel’s Labour Party, will also be appointed as ministers. There is no certainty as to how the two men— rivals in three consecutive elections— will work together in one government. The disillusionment of those who supported a real alternative to Netanyahu is palpable.
According to the communiqué on this new pact, Likud will continue with the Committee on Constitutional Affairs, Law and Justice, with the Economic Affairs Committee and will also deal with the management of the pandemic crisis. The Blue and White party will keep Defense and Foreign Affairs. The remaining portfolios are yet to be distributed.
A few hours before the announcement, about 2,000 people had gathered in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square to protest what they consider to be the anti-democratic measures imposed by Netanyahu during the pandemic. The Prime Minister froze all branches of government activity, including the judicial system, where he is being sued for three crimes: bribery, fraud, and abuse of trust. The trial was scheduled for May 24, but as the normal functioning of justice was interrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic and no new date has been set for the resumption of the proceedings.
Gantz’s consent to a joint government led to immediate divisions in his party, with many of his former supporters accusing him of betraying the entire movement by joining the religious right. There are even those who argue that his political career is at stake owing to his move to join hands with Netanyahu. “We have prevented a fourth election. We will protect democracy. We will fight coronavirus and care for all Israel’s citizens,” Gantz wrote on Twitter after signing the deal.