Netanyahu to Form ‘Emergency Unity Government’ with Gantz amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L), with Israeli President (C), and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz. (Photo: File)

Israeli politics has been thrown into even more turmoil with former General Benny Gantz’s decision to leave the Blue and White bloc to join Benjamin Netanyahu in what has been called a “coronavirus government”.

The virus has taken hold in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. Netanyahu, meanwhile, faces trial on fraud and corruption charges.

Netanyahu offered Gantz an immediate reward by ensuring his election as Speaker of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. He will also be Foreign Minister for 18 months before switching with Netanyahu and becoming Prime Minister.

His erstwhile allies in Blue and White, Yair Lapid and Moshe Ya’alon, criticized Gantz, saying that he had surrendered to Netanyahu and could not handle the 14-month battle to topple the incumbent Prime Minister.

According to the Hebrew-language media, the next Israeli government is Netanyahu’s government, not a coalition. The main beneficiary of the coronavirus crisis is said to be the Prime Minister, who was able to defeat Gantz and drag him into a government under his leadership and thus, he hopes, to evade prosecution.

The media added that the so-called “coronavirus government” represents a success for Netanyahu, with Gantz expecting to return the letter he had received from President Reuven Rivlin asking him to form a government; Rivlin will, in turn, ask Netanyahu to form a new administration.

The new government will be made up of the right-wing bloc of 58 Knesset members and the Israel Immunity Party with 15 MKs and the Benny Gantz party that split from Blue and White, which won 33 out of 120 seats in the election earlier this month.

“Gantz and Netanyahu are two sides of the same coin,” Palestinian journalist and editor of The Palestine Chronicle Ramzy Baroud commented.

“Gantz has repeatedly made it clear that he would be strengthening, rather than dismantling, the illegal settlements in the West Bank, and has even attempted to take ownership of Netanyahu’s pledge to annex the Jordan Valley,” Baroud wrote in a recent article.

“When it comes to war, Gantz is Netanyahu on steroids. He has participated, orchestrated or led many military campaigns, including ones aimed at suppressing any resistance in Gaza, in Lebanon, and during the previous popular uprisings,” Baroud added.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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