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Israel’s Netanyahu, Gantz Agree to Form Unity Government

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Blue and White party head Benny Gantz have signed an agreement for what they are calling a “national emergency government,” bringing to a close weeks of tough, on-again, off-again negotiations. The centrist Gantz had promised his voters that he would not sit under a prime minister indicted for alleged corruption, but Netanyahu, unable to form a government of his own and anxious to stand trial from a position of strength, played to concerns that the country needed to put aside its differences to face down the coronavirus pandemic. The agreement, which is not entirely finalized, will see Netanyahu remain prime minister for 18 months before being replaced by Gantz, a former military chief of staff who, in the interim, will serve as defense minister. Observers are saying that the real winners are the country’s voters, who will not be forced to go to the polls for a fourth snap election. According to initial reports, Netanyahu might indeed be looking at this as his swan song: He fought for, and apparently won, the ability to annex at least some parts of the West Bank as part of a US vision for Middle East peace, a move he could point to as his legacy.