Benny Gantz (right), leader of the centrist Blue and White list, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, head of the right-wing Likud party. (Emmanuel Dunand, Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty Images)

Israel’s Netanyahu Says Near Unity Gov’t Deal with Rival Gantz

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in a televised interview on Saturday night that he and his main political rival, Benny Gantz, head of the Blue and White political alliance, were close to finalizing an agreement to form a national unity government. The government would finally break the deadlock that has paralyzed Israeli politics and brought citizens to the polls three times in less than a year, and would take on as a primary mission the battle against coronavirus, which has infected nearly 1,000 Israelis to date. Gantz, however, denied that any deal had been reached. According to the alleged agreement, Netanyahu would remain in office for the next 18 months, after which Gantz would take over the premiership for 18 months. “The details have all been agreed,” Netanyahu said. “I will evacuate [office] on the date we decide. There will be no tricks, no shticks. Millions of citizens are waiting for us to save Israel.” The prime minister added, “This is the last call for unity.” Gantz, responding on the Twitter platform, said, “Netanyahu, anyone who wants unity doesn’t impose ultimatums, use partial leaks and most certainly does not hurt democracy or the citizens and does not paralyze parliament.” Netanyahu’s government last week used emergency regulations to enable the surveillance of coronavirus patients, employing technology normally used to track suspected terrorists. The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that lacking Knesset oversight, the surveillance must be frozen by Tuesday at latest.

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