After three elections, there is a government in Israel that can rely on a parliamentary majority. On Monday evening, acting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Benny Gantz signed an agreement on a “national emergency government”. “We prevented a fourth election.
We will secure democracy,” Gantz announced on Twitter. The coalition will include Netanyahu’s partners from right-wing and religious parties, as well as Gantz’s blue and white party and the Labor Party. Netanyahu, who has already served as Prime Minister for 13 years, will remain head of government for another one and a half years. The head of the right-wing Likud party was able to enforce any of his demands in the negotiations. The annexation of parts of the West Bank should begin in July.
This is likely to affect the Jordan Valley and the areas where the Israelis have their settlements. On Monday evening, the first reaction of the Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Stage to these intentions, which means implementing the plans of US President Donald Trump: “This means the end of the two-state solution and the dismantling of the rights of the Palestinians.” Another part of the agreement is that after 18 months Netanyahu will hand over the office of prime minister to Gantz, but may continue to live in the residence, which is actually reserved for heads of government.
Until the change in leadership in October 2021, Gantz, who was the former chief of the Army General Staff, wants to serve as Defense Minister and Vice Prime Minister. Foreign minister Gabi Ashkenazi is also to be a former army chief. Justice Minister is to become Gantz’s ally Avi Nissenkorn. The cabinet is said to have a total of 36 ministers and 16 deputies – it will be the largest in the country’s history. Amir Peretz, the head of the Labor Party, is given the economic responsibility, his party friend Itzik Schmuli the Ministry of Social Affairs. The former Foreign Minister Israel Katz from the Likud party will become Minister of Finance.
The previous Minister of Culture Miri Regev should be responsible for public security. Health Minister Yaakov Litzman of the ultra-orthodox United Torah Judaism party is expected to remain in office, as is Interior Minister Arye Deri of the Shas party. Likud politician Jariv Levin is expected to become parliament president. If the Jamina party close to the settlers continues to belong to the coalition, it should be able to fill the education department. Until the end, dealing with the judiciary and Netanyahu’s demands for immunity remained the main obstacle to the negotiations.
According to media reports, Netanyahu has a veto right over the appointment of the next chief of staff and prosecutors. Because of the corona spread, the start of the trial against him was postponed to May 24. Netanyahu is accused of bribery, fraud, and infidelity in three cases.
The unusually long three-year period for an emergency government would allow Netanyahu to move from the post of prime minister to that of the president in the summer of next year. Reuven Rivlin’s term in office ends in mid-2021. As long as there is no judgment, Netanyahu can stand as a candidate. As president, Netanyahu would enjoy immunity – the full seven-year term.
Netanyahu also wanted to ensure in the event of a Supreme Court decision that he could not serve as Prime Minister or Vice Prime Minister because of his corruption charges. According to Israeli media reports, he called for a mechanism to circumvent such a judgment as part of the coalition agreement. It was still unclear on Monday evening whether this would be included in the contract.
Gantz’s former allies in the blue and white alliance accused him of treason. Because Gantz has broken his election promise never to sit in a government with Netanyahu. Israel is speculating that his abrupt change of heart could have something to do with the content on his cell phone that was hacked during the election campaign. Gantz justifies his change of attitude with the corona crisis, which requires joint efforts and that he wanted to prevent a fourth election in such a short time.