Israel: Netanyahu and Gantz sign power-sharing deal to avert another vote | News | DW | 20.04.2020
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Israel: Netanyahu and Gantz sign power-sharing deal to avert another vote

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival Benny Gantz have signed an agreement to form an "emergency" government, their parties announced. This removes the need to hold a fourth election in roughly a year.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival, Benny Gantz, announced that they signed a deal to form an "emergency" coalition government on Monday.

The deal between Netanyahu's conservative Likud Party and Gantz's centrist Blue and White Party ends a longstanding political deadlock, and means that Israelis won't have to hit the polls for the fourth national election in a year.

Terms of the agreement were not immediately announced in the joint statement issued by the parties, but local media said that it called for a three-year power-sharing deal, in which Gantz would take over for Netanyahu halfway through the three-year period. 

"I promised the State of Israel a national emergency government that would work to save the lives and livelihoods of Israeli citiyen. I will continue to do everything for you citizens of Israel," Netanyahu said on Twitter soon after the deal was reached.

"We prevented a fourth election. We will maintain democracy. We will fight corona and take care of all Israeli citizens," Gantz wrote to his supporters.

Three deadlocks, then a pandemic

The country’s third election in a row ended with neither party securing enough votes to secure a viable coalition, but Gantz and Netanyahu later agreed to form an emergency government due to the coronavirus crisis. 

Israelis demonstrate against Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, under strict restrictions made to slow down the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spread, on Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, Israel April 19, 2020. (Reuters/C. Kern)

The talks on an emergency coalition government prompted mass public protests, complete with social distancing, by opponents of Prime Minister Netanyahu

Last week, the two parties missed a deadline to form a coalition. However, they were given more time to announce a deal as they claimed to be making "significant progress" in their negotiations. Had they not been able to come to an agreement, Israel would likely have had to face a fourth election. 

Gantz had previously vowed not to serve in a government under Netanyahu, whose premiership has been mired in scandal following his indictment for bribery, fraud and breach of trust late last year.

Read more:  Israel: Benny Gantz seeks unity with Netanyahu, as party disintegrates

However, the two agreed to emergency negotiations in the face of significant pressure to form a deal, so that the country could move forward with a more unified response to the coronavirus pandemic. Israel currently has over 13,600 confirmed cases and a death toll of 173. 

lc/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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