JERUSALEM, Israel – In one of the biggest turnarounds in Israel’s Political History, Benny Gantz of the Blue and White Party has reportedly agreed to join a national unity government with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
After weeks of refusing to join a national emergency government, Gantz set the stage for joining forces with Netanyahu.
In a speech before a nearly empty Knesset because of coronavirus restrictions, Gantz said why he made his decision.
"Let's join hands and take Israel out of the crisis it is in, together, let us put Israel before anything else," Gantz said.
According to the deal, Gantz could become either foreign or defense minister while Netanyahu will remain prime minister for 18 months until 2021. Then the two men will switch positions and Gantz will serve as prime minister. The power-sharing deal now brings together several parties to create a sizable coalition. It’s the first sign of unity and political stability within Israel in nearly a year.
The deal also effectively split what was one of Israel’s largest parties, the Blue and White. One of its leaders Yair Lapid refused to join the government and criticized his former partner Gantz.
“What’s being formed today isn’t a unity government and not an emergency government. It’s another Netanyahu government. Benny Gantz surrendered without a fight and crawled into Netanyahu’s government, joined the Haredi-extremist bloc,” said Lapid.
The agreement is a political victory for Benjamin Netanyahu. He remains prime minister and this could also this also could delay the trial he is facing on three separate indictments.
Because of the CODViD-19 pandemic, Netanyahu has called for an emergency government for weeks. Nearly 3000 Israelis are now infected; the country is in a near total lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and Netanyahu is trying to prevent a health catastrophe.
With a stable government, it appears Israel can now face the pandemic with a unified front on the eve of one of Judaism’s holiest feasts, Passover. Then the Jewish people were saved from ten plagues. Their prayer this year is that they can be saved from one.