Netanyahu and Gantz agree to national emergency government

Netanyahu speaks of "step to save Israelis" and will have the first 18 months of government. A privileged position to stem the effects of the corruption trial. Gantz promises to "protect democracy". Criticism from the former allies of the centrist leader. Palestinian Prime Minister: an "annexation" government.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews / Agencies) - After a year of political paralysis and three elections, last night while part of the country had taken to the streets against the current premier and in favor of democracy, the white smoke arrived: the Prime Minister ad interim Benjamin Netanyahu and main rival Benny Gantz reached an agreement for a government of national unity in the context of the ongoing coronavirus emergency.

The leader of the right and the centrist leader, rivals at the polls, will take turns leading the executive for a period of 18 months. The outgoing premier will have the first phase, in an attempt to use the office as a shield in the corruption trial which will open in mid-May.

The crisis and uncertainty triggered by the global pandemic helped push the two rivals to the deal, when the centrist Benny Gantz ruled out "big coalitions" during the election campaign and vowed to end the ten-year reign of Netanyahu. To date, Covid-19 in Israel has infected over 13700 people and caused just under 180 victims.

70-year-old Netanyahu called the agreement (see signing of deal in photo),  a "step to save the lives and well-being of Israeli citizens". Gantz, 60, points out that he "prevented a fourth election" and that "we will protect democracy". The government will last three years and the current President of Parliament will take over from the outgoing premier in October 2021 for the next 18 months.

For the next six months, laws that do not concern the fight against the pandemic cannot be brought to the attention of the Knesset; the only exception, the progress of the parliamentary process for the annexation of the Jewish colonies and the lands to occupy in the West Bank, which the Palestinians consider as an integral part of a future state. This would fall within the so-called "Agreement of the Century", the Middle East peace plan sponsored by US President Donald Trump and welcomed by both Netanyahu and former rival Benny Gantz.

Immediate reactions to the signing of the pact leading to the birth of the new executive, especially among the (former) supporters of the Blue White coalition. Many accuse Gantz of having betrayed the electoral mandate by joining forces with Netanyahu and, above all, by guaranteeing him votes (and seats in the Knesset) to remain in power.

Among the most critical voices are also those of the heads of the Palestinian Authority, who speak of an "Israeli government of annexation". Commenting on the agreement, Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh stressed that this is "the end of the two-state solution and the dismantling of the rights of the Palestinian people, according to the provisions of international law and resolutions".