Israel has been hesitant about passing the torch to new political leadership in the middle of the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic, and there has been much heated debate in Jerusalem in recent days about how to handle the transition in government at such a critical and uncertain time.
“It has been my intention, and it is still my intention, to do everything possible to keep us together, and I urge all of my potential political partners to act in the same spirit,” Benny Gantz, the winner of the March 2 elections on behalf of the Blue and White Party, said in the Jerusalem Post. “This is not the time for in-fighting and mud-slinging. This is not the time for controversy and divisions. This is the time for responsible, committed, patriotic leadership.”
No matter the end result, not everyone is going to be happy. Gantz has been called out throughout Israel for committing political suicide by agreeing to split the Prime Minister’s Office on a rotating basis with Netanyahu while also serving other governmental capacities under Netanyahu according to the Jerusalem Post and Reuters, essentially forming what is being referred to as a “unity government.”
“We formed Blue and White to offer an alternative to the Israeli people,” Yair Lapid, a party leader, said in the Jerusalem Post. “The election results proved that Israel needed that alternative like we need air to breathe. We wanted to bring about change, to bring about hope, to start a new path. Benny Gantz decided today to break apart Blue and White and crawl into Netanyahu’s government. It’s a disappointing decision. What’s being formed today isn’t a unity government or an emergency government. It’s another Netanyahu government. Benny Gantz surrendered without a fight and crawled into Netanyahu’s government.”
After the March 2 elections held in the Holy Land, Israeli president Reuven Rivlin asked Gantz to attempt forming a new government after originally encouraging Gantz and Netanyahu to join political forces. Netanyahu has since proposed formation of a “national emergency” government in response to the coronavirus tragedy, and has offered to step down from his role as prime minister at a mutually agreeable time in the future, with one such scenario allowing Gantz to take over the prime minister role full time as soon as September of 2021. His thinking was to allow for stability in Israeli government and leadership until coronavirus waned in Israel.
“These are not normal days and they call for special decisions. Therefore, as I’ve said, I intend to examine and advance, in any possible way, the creation of a national emergency government,” Gantz announced to the Israeli Parliament this week.
“The citizens of Israel need a unity government that would act to save their lives and livelihoods,” Netanyahu said in the Times of Israel. “This isn’t time for fourth elections. Let’s meet now and form a government today. I am waiting for you.”
Netanyahu followed up with a tweet reaffirming this sentiment: “We need to set this aside. We are one nation and one people and the order of the day is unity. I am calling for an immediate national unity government to deal with the crisis.”
Picture originally found here