Israeli President Rivlin has given Gantz and Netanyahu, who were fighting in the formation of the government, 48 more hours. If this attempt fails, there is a risk of new elections. Netanyahu meanwhile imposed further exit restrictions.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has given Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main rival Benny Gantz another 48 hours to form a government. Gantz’s 28-day mandate to form a government coalition after last month’s unsuccessful elections would actually have expired at midnight. As the presidential office announced on Monday, Rivlin agreed to the extension "provided that they are very close to an agreement."
Gantz and Netanyahu met overnight in a final attempt to resolve their differences. They then issued a joint statement saying they had made "significant strides" in forming a national emergency government to tackle the coronavirus crisis and end the country’s unprecedented political impasse. The impasse following three national elections – in April and September 2019 and again last month – has increased the prospect of a fourth ballot and undermined all plans for an economic recovery in the country.
New elections threaten
Without an agreement, it will be up to Parliament to choose a candidate who will then have 14 days to form a government. Otherwise an early election would be triggered automatically. Before the talks with Netanyahu, Gantz addressed his possible coalition partners from the conservative Likud party in a televised speech: "Netanyahu, this is our moment of truth. It is either a national emergency government or, God forbid, a fourth choice that is expensive and would be unnecessary in this time of crisis. "
Gantz said the magnitude of the coronavirus emergency prompted him to break his campaign promise not to form a coalition with Netanyahu, who is charged with corruption charges. Netanyahu denies the allegations. In his own televised address, the veteran prime minister imposed a travel ban for the last days of the Passover festival this week in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Pre-existing restrictions on public life have already forced many companies to close and the unemployment rate has risen by more than 25 percent. Netanyahu promised to formulate an "exit strategy" with a cabinet he led this week. At the same time, he stressed that the restrictions on business and education would be gradually relaxed and that there would only be a full return to normal everyday life when a coronavirus vaccine is available.