Netanyahu and Gantz move closer to unity govt in surprise twist
JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s main rival, Benny Gantz, was elected Speaker of parliament on Thursday in a surprise manoeuvre that could herald a unity government keeping the veteran leader in power.
With only the partial backing of his centrist Blue and White party and the support of Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud, Gantz left many of his own political allies fuming over the smoothing of a path to partnership with a prime minister under criminal indictment.
The surprise twist in 48 hours of political drama plunged Blue and White in disarray. But Gantz’s move kept open the possibility of a “rotation” deal in which he and Netanyahu would take turns as prime minister.
Each has insisted on going first, following three inconclusive national elections in less than a year.
Netanyahu has proposed a “national emergency” government with Gantz to help tackle the coronavirus crisis.
Israel’s president, who enjoys wide public respect, had pressed them to join forces, with Israelis facing a possible national lockdown within days to try to lower infection rates.
“Israel is facing a growing number of (coronavirus)infections and the number of victims is rising daily,” Gantz told parliament, accepting the speaker’s gavel.
Gantz said he intended to advance towards a unity government, and that he had opted to put himself up for the Speaker’s office to promote a deal.
Gantz had ruled out serving with Netanyahu, citing the prime minister’s looming trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, which he denies. – Reuters