Israeli opposition leader Benny Gantz of the Blue and White party has signalled a possible deal with Prime Minister Benjamin to form a national unity government, the Times of Israel reported.
"These are unusual times and they call for unusual decisions", Gantz reportedly told the Knesset on Thursday, as cited by AFP. "That is why I intend to explore the formation of an emergency unity government".
On Thursday, Gantz was elected as the speaker of the Israeli parliament which suggested the start of a partnership between the two rival politicians. According to reports of a negotiated deal, the two politicians might share the rotating prime minister position, with Gantz occupying the Knesset speaker position and then post of foreign minister until September 2021, after which he will take over from Netanyahu as prime minister.
An agreement in question between the two rival politicians was reportedly rejected by Yair Lapid, chairman of the Yesh Atid party and an important figure in the Blue and White alliance. Lapid’s party is now expected to head into opposition, while Gantz’s Israel Resilience Party party forming B&W is seen as joining forces with Netanyahu, effectively signalling the end of the alliance.
Meanwhile, another party comprising the alliance, Telem, headed by Bogie Ya’alon, has also been reportedly divided by the development, further aggravating the uncertainty over the future of the B&W.
"Gantz chose Netanyahu over Lapid", one of the reports on the Israeli Channel 12 said.
Gantz’s negotiated move has reportedly been met with surprise among his allies as Yesh Atid’s Meir Cohen had been expected to get the Knesset speaker position until the very last minute, the Times of Israel revealed. The reports about a Netanyahu-Gantz partnership have been circulating for several weeks now, but the politicians’ parties had not been able to agree on a deal until now.
That a deal has now been reached appears to have led to bitter recriminations among the Blue and White alliance. Cohen withdrew her candidacy following the news that the deal might indeed take place.
“We did not oppose unity, certainly not in such an hour. But we thought that we should first and foremost insist on democracy… on integrity. All these were rudely quashed today by those who were in a rush [to join the government]. It could have been different”, Cohen told Channel 12.
The Only Possible Escape From Political Deadlock?
On 16 March, Former Israeli Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz was tasked to form a government following the country’s third parliamentary elections in a year on 2 March, aimed at resolving the political deadlock.
On Tuesday, Netanyahu called upon his political rivals to overcome “small” issues regarding disagreements over a unity government in order to face the coronavirus threat that has already infected thousands of people in Israel.