Tuesday, 7 Jul 2020 - 15 of Tammuz, 5780

Israel’s president assigns the task of forming the country’s next government to Benny Gantz

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Gantz being given the first opportunity to form a government was expected, although uncertain until the full recommendations of the Joint List and Lieberman were made. While Gantz has the votes to receive this mandate from the president, he is unlikely to be able to form a government.

Two right wing backbenchers in Blue and White are known to strongly oppose the formation of a Gantz minority government with the external support of the Joint List. Without their two votes Gantz does not have a parliamentary majority.

However, Blue and White intend to use Gantz’s mandate to take control of the parliamentary process: replacing Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) with their own candidate and to possibly pass a law barring an indicted Prime Minister from serving in office in future (starting in the next Knesset). Blue and White also intend to increase parliamentary oversight of the Netanyahu transitional government, in particular relating to far-reaching coronavirus measures some opposition members view as infringements on civil rights.

In parallel, Likud and Blue and White are likely to begin talks over a national unity/emergency government, with the major sticking point remaining the details of a premiership rotation agreement between Gantz and Netanyahu.​​​​​​​

 “A fourth round of elections are not possible and the keys to establishing a new Israeli government are now in your hands and in the hands of all the elected officials from all parties,” declared Israeli President Reuven Rivlin as he assigned Monday the task of forming Israel’s next government to the leader of the Kachol Lavan (Blue and White) party Benny Gantz.

On assigning the formation of the government, the president said, “At the end of the consultations I held with the political parties, 61 Members of Knesset (out of 120) expressed their support for former chief of staff and Knesset member Benny Gantz to be assigned the task of forming the government. Accordingly, under Article 7 of Basic Law: The Government (2001), I hereby place in your hands the possibility of forming a government.”

“The law gives you, sir, 28 days beginning tomorrow, to form a government,” said the president, noting, “This is a short amount of time, but given the current circumstances of national and international crisis, it even this is too long.’’

Gantz declared after receiving the mandate from the president: ”I will do everything to form a government – national, patriotic, and as broad as possible — in a matter of days, as few days as possible.”

”A government in which I will represent and serve people who voted for Blue and White, people who voted for Likud, and people who voted for every other party, both right and left,” he added.

For the first time Gantz received Sunday the support of the entire Joint List, made of 5 Arab partie, including the controversial Balad faction. Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party also recommended Gantz after abstaining after last September’s election.

The Joint List reached its decision after extensive deliberations, with party leader Ayman Odeh explaining the decision as a means to depose Netanyahu saying: “It wasn’t from love of Mordechai but from hatred of Haman.”

Lieberman also blasted Netanyahu, saying the Prime Minister was seeking another election in 6 to 8 months “on the wings of the corona defeater.”

Prior to the presidential consultations, Netanyahu had offered Blue and White some kind of power-sharing arrangement either in a temporary emergency government or longer-term national unity government.

Gantz and other Blue and White leaders accused Netanyahu of manipulating the public, slamming the premier for several recent steps taken in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, including delaying the start of his corruption trial until May and raising the possibility of digitally tracking infected citizens using counterterrorism tools.

Nevertheless, Gantz and Netanyahu met last night at Beit Hanasi, the president’s residence in Jerusalem, saying their respective negotiation teams would meet soon.

Gantz being given the first opportunity to form a government was expected, although uncertain until the full recommendations of the Joint List and Lieberman were made. While Gantz has the votes to receive this mandate from the president, he is unlikely to be able to form a government.

Two right wing backbenchers in Blue and White are known to strongly oppose the formation of a Gantz minority government with the external support of the Joint List. Without their two votes Gantz does not have a parliamentary majority.

However, Blue and White intend to use Gantz’s mandate to take control of the parliamentary process: replacing Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) with their own candidate and to possibly pass a law barring an indicted Prime Minister from serving in office in future (starting in the next Knesset). Blue and White also intend to increase parliamentary oversight of the Netanyahu transitional government, in particular relating to far-reaching coronavirus measures some opposition members view as infringements on civil rights.

In parallel, Likud and Blue and White are likely to begin talks over a national unity/emergency government, with the major sticking point remaining the details of a premiership rotation agreement between Gantz and Netanyahu.​​​​​​​

The Knesset will be sworn in on Monday under strict coronavirus protocols, with no spectators and limited numbers of lawmakers congregating at any one time.

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