Israel’s Unity Government Between Netanyahu and Gantz
Author: Zarifa Emily Putri
On Monday, April 20, 2020, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from the Likud Party and his rival Benny Gantz from the Blue and White Party have announced to form a unity government after three failed elections with neither party gained a majority coalition to establish a government. The deal calls for three years period, with Netanyahu serving as the prime minister for the first half of the term, and Gantz will serve as the prime minister for the second half. Netanyahu’s Likud Party will gain significant influence over judicial appointments while Gantz’s Blue and White will take half of the ministries, including defense and foreign policies.
The decision comes at the time of an emergency when Israel has more than 13.800 confirmed coronavirus cases including 180 deaths, hence holding another election is not a feasible option. The unity government may put an end to Israel’s political stalemate after three failed elections in just over a year, but the deal shows several critiques from the Israelis. First, Netanyahu has led the most far-right government and relied on the support of ultra-nationalists, so for his supporters, the deal means surrendering half of the government to a more centrist coalition led by Benny Gantz.
Second, the deal is a disappointment for Israeli Arabs, Palestinians, and left-wing voters who once had their hopes on Gantz. Gantz has promised not to sit in a government led by a prime minister who is facing criminal charges, referring to Netanyahu who will begin his corruption trial on May 24. Compromising to Netanyahu means that Gantz neglects his campaign to eradicate the ‘nation-state basic law’, a law backed by Netanyahu which permits discrimination and racism against Israeli Arabs and Palestinians. The deal also signals that Gantz might allow Netanyahu’s agenda over the annexation of Jordan Valley and other territories on the West Bank, continuing illegal Jewish settlements over the land of Palestine.
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