Gantz Vows to Form Government ‘within a few Days’ amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Head of the Blue and White alliance Benny Gantz (L) and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. (Photo: File)

Israeli opposition leader Benny Gantz has called for a unity coalition, vowing to form a government “within a few days” after President Reuven Rivlin officially appointed the leader to establish the next government amid a coronavirus pandemic.

While Gantz called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to join him in a unity administration, Monday’s announcement was a sharp blow to Netanyahu, who had declared victory in the March 2 election.

On Sunday, 61 of Israeli parliament’s 120 legislators have voiced support for Gantz, leader of the Blue and White party, in consultations with Rivlin.

At a televised ceremony on Monday, Rivlin gave Gantz 28 days, with the option of a two-week extension, to assemble a ruling 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 at the nomination ceremony, without going into details.

Gantz, who in failed coalition negotiations with Netanyahu after a national ballot in September insisted on serving first as prime minister in a “rotating” leadership arrangement, called on his rival to agree to a unity deal now.

“The time has come for an end to empty words,” Gantz said at the ceremony. “It’s time to set aside our swords and unite our tribes and defeat hatred.”

Israel has held three inconclusive elections in less than a year, and Netanyahu faces a criminal indictment on corruption charges, which he denies.

Netanyahu and Lieberman have proposed a six-month “national emergency government” grouping Blue and White and the prime minister’s right-wing Likud party, to confront the coronavirus crisis.

However, Gantz’s backers include opposing forces – the Joint List, an electoral alliance of four Palestinian political parties and the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu faction led by former defense minister Avigdor Lieberman – that complicate efforts to form a viable government without wider support.

The Joint List is now the third-biggest party in the Israeli parliament, after achieving a record showing in the March 2 election.

The Joint List coalition of Arab parties took 15 of the Israeli Knesset’s 120 seats, a two-seat boost for representatives of the 21% Arab minority.

Growing racism and anti-Arab sentiment in Israel has affected most Jewish-dominated parties but has also allowed Arab parties to seek unity in the face of growing political incitement.

(Palestine Chronicle, AJE, Social Media)

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)

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