Domestic Affairs

Netanyahu rival Gantz wins support to form Israeli government

Israel’s opposition leader Benny Gantz vowed to form a government within a few days after the country’s president Reuven Rivlin officially asked him to establish the next government amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Tomorrow, around midday, the president will assign the task of forming the government to (the) head of Kachol Lavan, Benny Gantz”, Rivlin’s office said in a statement Sunday. The president is responsible for selecting the candidate he believes has the best chance of securing a parliamentary majority.

Prior to the decision, Rivlin consulted with leaders of all parties, and held an emergency meeting with prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu had declared victory in the 2 March election. His Likud party led the way with 36 seats, ahead of Gantz’s Blue and White party, with 33 seats. However, 61 of parliament’s 120 legislators supported Gantz on Sunday, giving him a slim majority.

Gantz called Netanyahu to join him in a unity coalition. “I give you my word, I will do all in my ability to establish within a few days as broad and patriotic a government as possible”, Gantz said. “It’s time to set aside our swords and unite our tribes and defeat hatred”, he added.

The election took place two weeks before Netanyahu is due in court to face corruption charges. He was indicted last year on fraud, bribery and breach of trust charges in three separate corruption cases. He denies the allegations, saying the charges have been trumped up by a liberal media and a justice system looking to depose him. On Sunday, the court said that the trial has been postponed until 24 May due to virus fears.

Israel has 200 confirmed cases of the virus with tens of thousands of people in home quarantine. Some politicians have previously called for an emergency unity government to address the outbreak. Netanyahu, as interim premier, has invited Gantz to form of an “emergency government … led by me”. Gantz, however, accused Netanyahu of abusing the pandemic fears: “When you get serious, we can talk” he said.

After the president’s official request, Gantz has a month to form a government. Under Israel’s current caretaker administration, the government is restricted in its ability to tackle any major crisis.

Source: New Europe

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