Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly struck a deal with opposition Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to form an emergency national unity government that will keep Netanyahu in charge for 18 months.
The news caused shockwaves in Israeli politics on Thursday, and immediately caused the Blue and White party to collapse, as fellow leader Yair Lapid withdrew. The party’s sole unifying principle had been to oppose Netanyahu.
Netanyahu’s party, the Likud, won the elections earlier this month — Israel’s third successive attempt — with 36 seats. It was Netanyahu’s best result, but his coalition of right-wing parties fell short of a 61-seat majority.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin gave Gantz the first opportunity to form a government. But because his left-wing coalition could not form a majority without 15 seats won by Arab parties, some of whom oppose the existence of the State of Israel, he found it politically impossible to find a governing formula. Netanyahu appealed to Gantz to form an emergency unity government to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Gantz appears to have accepted.
Under the reported terms of the proposed deal, Netanyahu would remain prime minister for another 18 months, and Gantz — who would begin as defense minister — would take over in 2021. Both Netanyahu and Gantz visited the White House earlier this year for the rollout of President Donald Trump’s peace plan for the region.
Netanyahu faces trial in May on corruption charges that supporters say are baseless and politically motivated. The Blue and White coalition had run on the idea that the country could not have an indicted prime minister.
But Netanyahu has earned praise for his early, if harsh, response to the coronavirus pandemic now ravaging the world.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.
Update: this article has been updated to reflect reports that Gantz will be defense minister, not foreign minister.