Binyamin Netanyahu (left) and Benny Gantz. (US State Department; Reuven Kapochinsky/Israel Resilience Party)

Israel to Get First Permanent Government after Year and a Half

Israel is set on Thursday night to swear in its first permanent government since December 2018, following inconclusive elections in April and September of last year. After a third national vote this past March and a lot of subsequent politicking, Likud Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Blue and White party chief Benny Gantz reached a coalition agreement – but not before the latter broke away from his political allies in the Yesh Atid and Telem parties, with whom he ran on a combined electoral slate in all three elections. The new government was also made possible when the country’s Supreme Court turned down numerous petitions demanding that Netanyahu be prevented from leading a government while under indictment in three separate corruption cases. His trial is due to begin next week. The unprecedented 18-month saga has been described as one of the most – if not the most – detrimental in Israel’s political history, leading to a widespread public perception, manifest in ongoing protests, that the country’s leaders are more interested in advancing their own interests as opposed to those of the people who democratically elected them. According to the coalition deal, Netanyahu will serve as prime minister until October 2021, when he is replaced by Gantz, who in the interim will serve as defense minister. Gantz ally Gabi Ashkenazi will become Israel’s foreign minister and the Likud’s Yair Levin will assume the role of parliament speaker, thus controlling the legislature’s agenda.

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