Netanyahu, Gantz Ink Shaky Coalition Agreement
After 18 months without a permanent government, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister on Monday night inked a coalition deal with his former rival to end the country’s longest political stalemate. Barring judicial intervention, Likud Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, whose trial on corruption charges is slated to begin in May, will continue serving in his post for the next 18 months before stepping aside for Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White party. Notably, the agreement calls for the Likud to maintain control over the Finance, Health and Education ministries, among others. The party will also install one of its lawmakers as parliament speaker in lieu of Gantz, who currently occupies the role but is slated to take over the defense portfolio while simultaneously acting as vice premier. Blue and White legislators will also take over the key Foreign and Justice ministries. The long-awaited development comes after three consecutive snap elections held in April and September of last year, and again on March 2. The process exposed deep political divisions among the country’s leadership, and, perhaps more profoundly, wide chasms between segments of the Israeli population.