Israeli government formation delayed

Netanyahu rushes to quell infighting within Likud party.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival-turned-partner, Benny Gantz, on Thursday postponed the swearing-in of their controversial new government as the Israeli leader rushed to quell infighting within his Likud party.

In a joint announcement, the two men said they would hold a swearing-in ceremony on Sunday to give Mr. Netanyahu more time to hand out coveted Cabinet appointments to members of his party.

After three deadlocked and divisive elections, and a year and a half of political paralysis, Israel had hoped to swear in the new government on Thursday.

Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Gantz, a former military chief, announced last month they would put their differences aside and join forces to steer the country through the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis and its severe economic fallout.

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It came at the price of the dissolution of Mr. Gantz’s Blue and White party and his reneging on a key campaign promise not to serve under Mr. Netanyahu, who is scheduled to go on trial this month for corruption charges. Their much-scrutinised coalition deal, resulting in the most bloated government in Israeli history and new legislation to help Mr. Netanyahu cling to power, could only come about after the country’s Supreme Court ruled it had no legal grounds to block it.

Despite the criticism, Mr. Gantz argued that teaming up with Mr. Netanyahu was the only way to avoid a fourth election.

Swearing-in on Sunday

Just as the government was set to be sworn on Thursday, the two men announced the delay in a joint statement, saying Mr. Gantz had agreed to a request by Mr. Netanyahu to wait until Sunday.

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The coalition deal calls for Mr. Netanyahu to serve as Prime Minister for the government’s first 18 months before being replaced by Mr. Gantz for the next 18 months. Their blocs will have a similar number of Ministers and virtual veto power over the other’s major decisions.

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 5:28:34 AM |

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