After 500 days of campaigning, Israel acquires a government

Benyamin Nétanyahou and Benny Gantz, May 17 at the Knesset, in Jerusalem.
Benyamin Nétanyahou and Benny Gantz, May 17 at the Knesset, in Jerusalem. KNESSET SPOKESPERSON'S OFFICE / via REUTERS

The largest government in the history of Israel was sworn in on Sunday, May 17: no fewer than 36 ministers and 16 deputy ministers crowded in. It was necessary to respect the agreement concluded by Benjamin Netanyahu and his "work-study prime minister", Benny Gantz, at the end of an electoral campaign which stretched over more than 500 days, through three legislative elections, since April 2019.

Gantz takes over the defense ministry and plans to succeed Netanyahu as head of government in eighteen months. This complex agreement, undermined by the lack of confidence between the two men, was anchored by parliamentarians in the country's Basic Law on May 7. In practice, it fears paralysis: what to agree on, how to move forward?

"The people want a unity government, and that’s what they are getting today," said Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, before announcing the planned date of the transfer of power to his partner: November 17, 2021. For the first six months, their government wants modestly to"Emergency" : it is supposed to almost exclusively manage the aftermath of the coronavirus epidemic, which has put one million Israelis out of work, or almost a quarter of the workforce.

Netanyahu's trial to start on May 24

Half of the portfolios fall to Mr. Gantz and his allies, despite their low weight in the Knesset (17 seats out of 120). General Gantz, who once again affirmed his sense of " responsibility " sunday sees an agreement "Balanced". Those close to him are keen to supervise the Prime Minister until the handover, first within the Ministry of Justice, which they take over. The trial for corruption, fraud and breach of trust of Mr. Netanyahu is scheduled to begin on May 24.

Read also Israeli parliament approves union government of Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz

No chance that the new Minister of Justice, Avi Nissenkorn, will announce a new postponement of the hearing, as his predecessor Amir Ohana had done since the start of the pandemic. But the devil is in the details. Mr. Ohana obtains in return the ministry of public security. He will appoint several senior police officers, whose positions remained vacant, at a time when police investigators will be called to testify before Mr. Netanyahu’s judges.

Gantz’s former partner in the leadership of the Blue White movement, Gabi Ashkenazi, obtains the foreign affairs portfolio. But it is hard to imagine how this former chief of staff could escape the fate of his predecessors, overshadowed by Mr. Netanyahu, who tends to embody Israeli diplomacy on his own. Especially since the Prime Minister reminded him of several heavyweights in the profession, including Ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer. The Labor Party, heir to the founders of the State of Israel, in 1948, reduced today to two elected deputies, joins this crew, Amir Peretz obtaining the ministry of the economy.

You have 56.27% of this article to read. The suite is reserved for subscribers.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here