Benny Gantz elected head of the Israeli parliament to everyone’s surprise

In a dramatic and unexpected turnaround, Benny Gantz was elected president of the Israeli parliament on Thursday as part of a potential power-sharing agreement with rival Benjamin Netanyahu to end the political crisis in Israel.

Benny Gantz, the rival of outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was elected on Thursday March 26 to the surprise of all Speaker of Parliament as part of a potential power-sharing agreement between the two men.

In the aftermath of Yuli Edelstein’s resignation, a close friend of Benjamin Netanyahu, Benny Gantz, who was appointed on March 16 to form the new government after the last elections on March 2, was to run for one of his deputies for this post.

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But in a dramatic move, he presented his own candidacy, the only one besides for this post. He was immediately elected by 74 votes to 18, notably obtaining the votes of the deputies of Likoud (right), but losing support in his own camp, members of Bleu-Blanc (center) having refused to endorse this rapprochement with the party by Benjamin Netanyahu.

And right after his election, he called for a “government of unity and urgency” to manage the crisis of the new coronavirus.

For more than a year, Benny Gantz, ex-head of the army, had not been eyeing the post of President of Parliament but that of Prime Minister. He was thus instructed by President Reuven Rivlin to form the government in the wake of the third legislative elections in less than a year against Benjamin Netanyahu.

The latter, at the head of Likoud, had obtained his best score, 36 seats out of the 120 in the Knesset, but without however succeeding in winning a majority.

Benny Gantz had been chosen because he had won the support of more deputies than his rival in an attempt to form a government, while the country has been led by transitional cabinets for more than 15 months.

The aim of the maneuver is “to form a government with Netanyahu,” said an official from the Blue-White coalition, who is about to implode. Shortly after the announcement, party leaders, Yaïr Lapid and Moshe Yaalon, said they were leaving the ship.

A government of unity and urgency?

Meanwhile, Benny Gantz and Benjamin Netanyahu’s teams are holding talks in hopes of delivering a united and also “emergency” government, with the Hebrew state facing the pandemic of the new coronavirus.

Israel is fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the side effects of which was the postponement sine die of the trial of Benjamin Netanyahu, accused of corruption, embezzlement and breach of trust in three cases.

So far more than 2,660 cases, including eight deaths, have been officially confirmed in Israel. Authorities have tightened restrictions by banning citizens from leaving their homes except for essential reasons such as buying food, medicine, receiving health care, or in some cases working.

With AFP

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