JERUSALEM, Israel – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has all but sealed the deal for his new unity government with political rival Benny Gantz, ending a 17-month political deadlock and preventing a fourth election.
After defeating a petition against him in the Supreme Court and winning the endorsement of 72 members of Israel’s 120-seat parliament, Netanyahu was officially tasked with forming a government.
“According to the request of a majority of Knesset members … I hereby notify you that you have 14 days to form a government,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin wrote Thursday in a letter to Netanyahu.
Although Netanyahu officially received the mandate to form a government on Thursday, he is expected to finalize his unity government agreement with Gantz.
Gantz and Netanyahu announced last month that they would put aside their rivalry to form an emergency government and lead Israel through the coronavirus crisis and the economic fallout.
According to their power-sharing deal, Netanyahu will serve as prime minister for 18 months, and then Gantz will serve for 18 months.
Netanyahu is eager to continue his role as prime minister as he battles the corruption charges against him. He is indicted with fraud, breach of trust, and bribery and his trial is set to start on May 24.
Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing and says he is the victim of a witch hunt.